My article in BUSINESS INSIDER published 5thof May 2018.
In the title, I quoted the words of Richard Branson, president of the Virgin Group, who once said that a company for ambitious employees is a trampoline, not limiting shackles. By implication – of course, a trampoline for a career. Certainly, for many business environments, this type of view is no longer surprising. Does the authoritarian management model work in the digital economy?
With this approach, a successful business is the work of a team that the leader simply leads, and the measure of business success is, inter alia, the development of employees. So the leader not only sets short- and long-term goals, but also stimulates, inspires and infects with visions. It is a combination of a coach, advisor, but also a partner. When managing employees is accompanied by the release of human potential, the ideal finale of such a strategy may even be to discover future leaders.
Yes, I think that one of the many missions of the modern leader may be to look for talents in a group of employees, and in consequence to select potential successors. And because of the latter – although for many it is probably a controversial thesis – working with such a company-oriented leader may be a springboard for success for the employee – understood as both internal development and a specific professional achievement.
Leaders in history
This approach is close to me, although it may be utopian or wishful for many modern leaders. One of the reasons for this is probably tradition.
Until the mid-twentieth century, the leader was perceived as someone omniscient, untouchable, omnipotent. He was the distributor of undisputed wisdom, and enforced the plans through a system of penalties and awards. His primary task was to maintain control over employees, and the main tool of influence was the non-negotiable directive. The dictatorial model meant for the company the lack of a flow of ideas, and the employees set the role of obedient contractors who followed orders motivated by fear.
Over time, the authoritarian model of management began to give way to an approach in which the leader perceives the value of people around him. In such a transactional model, which began to be present in global business in the mid-1970s, the leader built his position through personal contacts. During conversations with subordinates, he negotiated terms of cooperation, concluded agreements and established a mechanism for remuneration and enforcement of decisions. Still, he was the captain, and the involvement of employees was quite instrumental.
A new important element in the style of leaders’ behavior appeared at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries. It was then that the involvement of team members and managers became more important. As a result, the charisma of the leader became important, and the individual potential of employees began to be appreciated and became a value for the company. Recent years have brought an interesting change. The new organizational management model is based on the belief in the strength of teams that are able to both define the vision of action and – through internal voting – emerge a leader. Such a democratic model has gained popularity (and is still being talked about) in the culture of start-ups and innovative technology companies.
The leader trains successors
The leader of a modern organization is not and will not be an alpha and omega today – neither for boards nor for regular employees. Its inviolability is relative, and its omniscience is easy to critically verify – especially today, when we have a lot of tools to acquire information. That is why the leader of the organization, leading the company, must create an environment of favorable partners – co-leaders, on whom he can count in the management process. It should build a maximum decentralized decision making system, which will help it delegate responsibilities, strengthen management and help in effective time management.
Leadership theories that are close to me are called transformational. They assume that the success and strength of the leader depends to a large extent on his ability to delegate tasks, and at the same time the ability to arouse enthusiasm and sell visions so that it turns out to be the most attractive to employees. Following the leader, employees freely use their own potential and develop new skills that can help them in the future to take a leadership role. In other words, real leaders are trainers whose passion is to develop people based on ideas that form the basis of a business managed by a leader.
Read more in the full article.