Leadership describes the skill of a person to lead and guide individuals in an organisation. Management on the other hand describes the function to plan, control, execute and measure certain tasks. But both aim to get the best out of an individual’s contribution to the organisation’s goals.
For decades organisations were setting up hierarchies and structures to manage their people by commanding (telling them what to do) and controlling (checking on their work). This mind-set sprung from the experience of mass manufacturing where no higher skills were needed to complete tasks. Therefore, the organisation was divided into people who were supposed to work (blue collar) and those who think (white collar or managers). White collar staff were telling blue collar workers what and how to do.
The Generation Dilemma
With the social, cultural, technical and political advancement over the last 80 years the world has changed drastically. The standard of living has improved and with basic needs being more and more secured today’s employees are striving to secure their more psychological and self-fulfilling needs. Instead of job and financial security they are looking for making sense and leaving an impact. This generation is called generation Y or millennials.
Applying known techniques and tools that are familiar within Command & Control environments doesn’t seem to be effective anymore. Organisations struggle to motivate their employees or keeping their top talents as they are overwhelmed with understanding the motivations and needs of the generation Y.
Leadership can be learnt
While Management is a function, Leadership is a skill, which can be learnt. In order to be able to orchestrate the work within departments with different generations, backgrounds, seniority and experience, it is important to base the organisation on different values than commanding and controlling:
Empathy describes the possibility and willingness to recognise and potentially understand emotions, motives and goals of other people. As a leader it is important to know how your team feels and the reasons for their decisions. This is the only way for leaders to give clear guidance and improve the outcome of the team.
Integrity allows a leader to prove how important the team is. Most managers tend to forget the importance of this in a time where the organisation is directed by metrics or sales. This leads to committed meetings with team members seeming less important than sales meetings. But having integrity means to stand with the commitment towards the team and trusting the team to make the right decision.
Transparency describes the visibility and availability of a leader’s activities in a team or organisation. It does not describe, that everything needs to be visible and available, but rather to be consistent in what to make transparent.
Leaders need to understand that today it is impossible to have all knowledge within only one person. The world has become too complex to actually manage an organisation from only one individual. Leaders are required to constantly learn – from the market as well as from the team / organisation.It is only possible to improve performance through the awareness of our surrounding.