Sunday, 6 May 2012

Where are we now?

In the last instalment we examined the nature of the workplace into which many of today's leaders received their introduction and indoctrination.  On balance, the leadership of that day lacked any real sophistication, for a variety of reasons.  But much has changed and it is important to understand these differences in order to develop an effective and necessary leadership model.  Today I want to review some of the major changes and what they mean to us.

1.  Whereas the former workplace was a white male dominated environment, today we have a true multi-national environment in which women now are more fully represented at all levels of leadership.  This environment requires a much higher level of sophistication in order to motivate a diverse team towards a common goal.

2.  Today's employee is much better educated than at any time in the past.  This means that she/he is far better prepared to contribute at a high level in a relatively short time.  This is an important fact for the leader to recognize because individual contributions impact job satisfaction significantly.

3.  We are in a very difficult economic environment.  Unemployment is high and companies are contracting as opposed to growing.  The IMF suggests that we may be in a decade long period of economic stagnation.  All these factors contribute to a very high level of stress amongst all levels in a company.  And this requires a higher level of leadership and management competency to continue to draw out the best in people.

4.  Organizations have continually restructured and flattened their hierarchy.  This leads to fewer opportunities for advancement for everyone.  As a consequence, job satisfaction must come in different ways that do not include promotion and compensation increases.  Staff members must be inspired to contribute and to be part of a successful team environment as a key aspect of job satisfaction.

5.  Information moves at the speed of light.  And the avalanche of data makes it impossible for one person to be the 'oracle' in which all wisdom resides.  Employees want and need to be an integral part of the decision making process.  Any leader who ignores this reality does so at their professional peril.

The problem is that far too many employers continue to deny these realities and attempt to perpetuate the old model that ostensibly served them well in the past.  The result is that productivity declines; the best employees leave for opportunities that allow them better self expression; and a downward spiral performance continues while leaders stand by dumbfounded at how to halt the inevitable.

In the next blog I will begin to outline the route to Leadership that Inspires that will address the needs of today's workplace.

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