Freeman Cebu Business

Leadership Change 2024:The next boss should be a mentor

INTEGRITY BEAT - Henry Schumacher - The Freeman

Up to early 2020, no matter how much the office changed, the image of the boss  endured: it was someone who put in years climbing the ranks or leapt between companies, propelled by triumphs in revenue growth. The best at charming new clients or closing deals. The manager with the final say on team objectives and performance review.

Is it time for that boss to go extinct at the beginning of 2024? I think so. We are faced with generations in the workforce of the future; young ones want to become the biggest asset of the company; the baby boomers must embrace the millennials and centennials.

The conditions under which the boss operates have shifted—fewer managers, more reports, less administrative work—a new model is emerging. This boss is a coach, not a dictator; a mentor, but not necessarily because of experience with sales or programming. Where previous leaders may have sought to stand out, these managers excel at fostering collaboration. They must be able to dream jointly with the team and inspire the team. They will be younger than you are, with less industry experience! Can you handle that?

Going forward, managers will be less technical experts and more social-emotional experts, to help employees navigate the culture of the organization. Bosses in previous generations tended to be excellent individual contributors who were promoted to management positions so they could teach teams. It was a model that functioned effectively as long as the rate of change in the workplace remained low.

However, with technology such as automation and artificial intelligence changing our working environment at a fast pace, work has become more about idea generation and developing talent. Without the need to devote so much time to business tasks, managers will increasingly focus on coaching employees and providing emotional support, bridging the work/life expectations of various generations – with special focus on millennials and centennials. These people do not want to be told what to do, they expect to be encouraged to solve problems and moving the company forward as entrepreneurs, or rather as intrapreneurs.

As the role of the manager shifts from authority figure to nurturer, winning workers over on everything from the company’s performance record so far to tomorrow’s focus on digitalization, data management, and providing sustainable products and services, as they gain importance.

The changing job description of a boss and increased expectations from workers means a different type of employee will be considered management material. Those with highly developed social abilities, good listening skills, real-time processing skills, will pull ahead.

This will prove especially true in virtual environments, where the ability to gain employee trust and engagement over digital platforms will become crucial. Undergoing digital transformation, the question comes up: do I use technology to try to do my best to create a great workplace or do I use technology to get all the analytics and control someone’s professional life?             

While management training has traditionally focused on educating leaders to run the business, increasingly it needs to be geared toward training executives to manage through, and in some cases drive, rapid change. We need the right combination of high-tech and high-touch in human relations to attract and keep the right people. The tools it takes to achieve that are often the tools of a coach and less the tools of a commander.

Having been a ‘commander’ before, I have to admit that I like these changes. What about you? I am interested in your feedback. Contact me at [email protected]   

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