The successful manager in the digital age will foster innovation and collaboration, respect employees’ desire for work/family balance, and guide workforce development in a rapidly changing landscape. These managers will often cede their place “at the top of the pile” and behave like another node in the organizational network. Managers that rely on authority and structure to achieve organizational goals will frustrate and flounder. Managers with the courage and compassion to lead will thrive.
Our politics, commerce, religion, and increasingly mobile lifestyles demonstrate a decline in highly-centralized institutions and a rise in flatter organizations where decision-making is distributed to gain its full knowledge and expertise. This period of powerful social and technological change are shaping business leaders to have a balanced focus on innovation and quality processes.
With the challenge of bringing change to large organizations, corporate leaders are already sensitive to this “sea change” and are well on their way to adapting. I believe leaders of small and medium-sized business will prosper by growing their skills as described below:
- More ability to inspire and persuade and less focus on direct and control
- More ability to extend the length of their planning horizon and less focus on reactive problem solving
- More ability use a long-term vision and purpose to assess the importance of short-term issues and lead the organization
- More ability design roles and incentives that foster collaboration and encourage personal leadership and initiative
- More ability to coach and develop employees so to build their trust and confidence in carrying out responsibilities that the manager might normally hold onto for themselves
- More ability to match employee responsibilities to their natural skills and less “pigeon-holing” employees by credentials and their entry position in the organization
While many people already associate these skills with exceptional managers, this type of skill development requires persistence and commitment. Small business leaders often have not been afforded an opportunity to develop these skills. Executive coaches can play a role in preparing small business leaders to play in the digital world. This is my vision for future business leaders. I welcome all comments, questions, and differing views.