Do we really need leaders?

For some time now, it is almost an usual request from all executive levels to build a flat corporate structure regardless the business and the sector. Relatively recent trends are to merger the markets and utilize one management structure to lead few markets. HR teams at all markets are facing the same issue to find mobile managers and executives, willing to travel over 60% of the time and willing to take some business line which is crossing so many others with very wag line of direct or functional responsibility and reporting lines.

Corporations are turning more and more into matrix than into any solid structure that generation x is used to. I would say that digitalization made a full disruption of management role and purpose. For sure, we don’t expect any more that employee is passive and take no action if not told so. We want people to be proactive, we expect ownership mentality, we expect self sustainable employees, we want people to take over the responsibility over the outcome and to assure delivery. What does that mean for the future managers and leaders? They are less and less single decision making points – that would slow down the business, with today speeds at the markets no one can wait for a few persons to make all the decisions.

So, what’s left? Looking back into the matrix there is something crucial, something needed to make it stable and sustainable, we can call it the code, the unique language for all the people in the matrix, the facilitator and the carrier of all information transfer and all the actions. The code, the common language is actually corporate culture, the principles, how we do the business, how are we interpreting information, how we start, conduct and finalize actions, how we treat all the stakeholders, how are we doing business. Question that rise now is what does the code have to do with leaders? The code is actually “written” by leaders. The new role of management level is to write the code, the principles, to make sure everyone get it, fully understand it, to promote the code and to prove the code is the best fit to the business the company is doing. And more than that. The code is not written in stone. It requires to be changed from time to time, it needs to evolve together with the market, considering all disruptions that todays business is facing more frequently than ever.

Can you imagine how hard can it be to establish the code, to promote it, to make it alive and then to change it? In the bottom of the human being there is a need for change coexisting together with the need for stability. The business need sustainability, but to be sustainable reqires to be adaptive to market change and to the emerging disruptions, which means in order to be stable we need people to be under transformation all the time, really all the time.

That require tremendous effort within organization and someone needs to have the role of managing the code, the corporate culture, mindset of the people, not only to assure functional competencies, talent pipeline and all the expectations toward employees mentions earlier, but also to enable that matrix is running smoothly. Now, completely new horizon is what kind of competencies we need in leader today to enable this new role. I would say we are on the doorstep to define this spectrum, but for now we are shooting for the natural talents who are comfortable in the role even without a big number of years of experience in the role or the relevant industry. As always, we will eventually map the core competencies more or less consistently, but the new leaders’ role is born and again we need talents for success.

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