What is your strength?

What is your strength: are you a problem solving manager or the manager that represents the company publicly? Should a company have both types of managers on board?

The term management seems old-fashioned and redolent of organisational complacency that needs to change.

It has been proven that twenty-first century businesses want leaders, not managers.

Why do companies set such store by leadership skills?

Could it be that if they call managers leaders, then it does not matter if they are without people management skills, because employees will follow them by the sheer force of personality? That model may work when times are positive, and particularly during years of rapid acquisition-led growth. But during periods of consolidation, market contraction or economic downturn, exacerbated by intensifying competition and environmental challenges, innovation and creativity is the only way to stay competitive.

What is “enough”?

Enterprise leaders must be able to:

  1. make decisions that are good for the business and
  2. evaluate the talent on their teams.

To do both they need to recognize that business functions are distinct managerial subcultures, each with its own mental models and language. Effective leaders understand the different ways that professionals in finance, marketing, operations, HR, and R&D approach business problems, and the various tools (discounted cash flow, customer segmentation, process flow, succession planning, stage gates, and the like) that each discipline applies. Leaders must be able to speak the language of all the functions and translate for them when necessary. And critically, leaders must know the right questions to ask and the right metrics for evaluating and recruiting people to manage areas where they are not experts.

Generating innovation thinking throughout the organisation means encouraging ideas from the bottom up, not from the top down. Unfortunately most managers have no idea how to exploit talent and capability of their people because they’ve never been given the tools and training to do so.

The real question is: should organisations develop an internal culture in a bid to incite, educate and deliver innovation, a shift through the hierarchical management approach towards a more democratic culture characterised by effective listening and coaching and not telling? Your thoughts?

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