Unprepared For The Economy Around Them

by Alex Hutchins

One would think that leaders are leaders and that managers are managers and while there are over-lapping areas of responsibilities that the two positions are very much different... and if, you were thinking that, then you would be right, as managers: plan, organize, delegate, and control (sometimes leading people in the process; leaders: set the vision and direction for the company letting the people know the direction in which they are heading.

Most of the time, but not always, leaders cannot manage and managers cannot lead; however, there are always exceptions to this rule.

Managers perform their work in the atmosphere of middle management whereas leaders perform their work in the atmosphere of upper management which are two and distinct levels of management which oftentimes, never intersect or overlap, simply because of the protocols in place to prevent such intermingling from ever taking place.

Middle Management and Upper Management do not even use the same Executive Washrooms even and when these executives need to perform typical bodily functions... so, why would anyone, in their right mind, ever confuse the tasks and responsibilities of these two types of businessmen?

They are typically confused because writers of business and about business are still tying to claim that there are some similarities between these two types of people; but, those of us who actually teach management classes have, and will always maintain that there is a strong and important difference... and, not totally dissimilar from a professional Basketball Player thinking that they can play professional baseball, because of similar skills and because of their keen athletic abilities. It just does not work that way and never will.

According to the Human Factor, Inc., there are six future areas in which managers with leadership traits (let's say, not not upper management leaders) need to be prepared:

  1. Flexibility
  2. Globalization
  3. Core Competencies
  4. Sustainability
  5. Collectivism
  6. Generational

LEADERS (in Upper Management) could actually care less about these 6 areas, other than already realizing and setting the Global Vision for the entire company. The rest of this stuff are these responsibility of all those people beneath them in the organizational hierarchy... and, how they actually get there is their responsibility as well, as long as their methodology stays true to the company's mission.

So, who these 6 items actually pertain to are managers that this article is calling leaders... since I suppose leaders has a nicer “ring” to it than being called a manager; but, in so doing, this article only serves to confuse these issue and makes it difficult to teach the concepts of management accurately.

As far as I am concerned, what has really happened out there in the business marketplace, is the fact that businesses, whether they actually wanted to go there or not, have gone or will be going into a global arena and it is in this global arena that many of our American trained managers are feeling a little uncomfortable. Not only will there be diverse work forces that will need to be managed, but there will be different cultures that will need to be respected, as well as different governments who by the very nature of them being located outside the continental United States, will be operating differently from those located within the continental United States.

For instance, in some parts of the world, bribes are considered the only appropriate way to conduct business. And, how will those values impact and mesh with values of our American managers?

So, the author of this article, Monica Wells, believes that there will be 6 Leadership (Management) Trends of which business should take note.
  1. future leaders (managers) will need to be flexibility.
  2. future leaders (managers) will have to accept business globalization,
  3. future leaders (managers) will need to have a solid understanding of and in core skills such as motivating direct reports, communication, setting goals and task delegation.
  4. future leaders (managers) must demonstrate social responsibility.
  5. future leaders (managers) must be able to collaborate with other future leaders
  6. future leaders (managers) must learn to accept generational differences
Let's remind ourselves of the basic functional areas of all managers:
  • Planning
  • Organizing
  • Delegating
  • Controlling

I would submit to you that for the last 50-75 years (at least in the USA) that managers in order to get their jobs done based upon the above four functional areas, that being flexible was actually the only way that this task could have ever been accomplished given the inherent variation that exists in all processes.

I would also submit to you that despite these four functional areas of management that the only issue of concern to leaders about the managers beneath them is their ability to achieve results, and while having excellent communication and interpersonal skills would certainly help that cause, it should not necessarily be seen or demanded as a prerequisite for getting the job done.

I would also submit to you that managers do not actually have to accept globalization as a fact of life because it is here, but they do yield to its influence on the company and its employees. For instance, even though I may not like what is going on, I can still help the company achieve its results better than anyone else on the payroll.

I would submit to you that managers already are fully adept and skillful in the areas of: employee motivation, goal setting, and delegation as well as in monitoring and evaluation progress and making changes in the way the work gets done in order to achieve results as the business climate changes.

I would submit to you that managers do not have to demonstrate a social responsibility in order to get their job done, unless the leader of the company, decides that implementing a social responsibility strategy is absolutely necessary for the company's long term survivability. Company's do not necessarily have to win/lose from one year to the next as long as they put themselves in a position to be able to continue to play the business game.

I would submit to you that managers will collaborate with other managers as long as it is in their mutual interests of cooperation to do so; otherwise, they will not either within the company (between departments) or outside of the company (between competitors).

I would submit to you that generational differences must be tolerated within a company but they do not have to be accepted by all... and, to demonstrate rules to the contrary would definitely cause structural differences to exist that would undermine office politics... at least, on the short term.

Interestingly and as long as the business entity has been in existence, there has been generational differences... and, these generational differences, no matter how well planned for and implemented have always caused wrinkles in the fabric of business that have been difficult from time-to-time to work out.
But, business has always continued nonetheless... and, it will always continue regardless of whether or not we accept these generational differences. 

It is my opinion that these people who have generational differences are coming up through the ranks and are not yet on top of the organization... so, it is they who should do the integrating with the old and not the other way around.

The future of Management (leadership)
How we manage people to get the work done will change very little in the years ahead; however, what will change will be the environment in which the company and its employees work. And, it will be these environments that will cause us our most serious problems, until we fully understand and appreciate and assimilate globalization. 
There is a good possibility that true assimilation will never take place and I suppose that is ok as well... because, the next phrase in management, will not be that of managing people but that of managing spaces, processess, and robots. If fact, with robots all that a manager has to insure is that all the raw materials gets delivered exactly at the time that they are needed.

And, no doubt there will be or is already a computer software program that will do exactly that.

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