New Management Paradigms

March 29, 2012
Today’s leaders and managers must deal with continual, rapid change. Management techniques must track the business environment continuously, to assess change and adapt.

Managing change does not mean controlling it, but rather understanding it, being more sensitive and flexible, and guiding it as much as possible.

Technology now makes people significantly more effective by providing tools for communications and collaboration. People can work well together without much face-to-face interaction or discussions. Asynchronous e-mail provides improved thinking styles—deliberate instead of spontaneous, with automatic documentation of discussion threads.

The rise of social networks gives everyone the ability to collaborate easily both inside, and outside, the company. They encourage employees to work together, without close supervision. Facebook- and Twitter-style networking and company-sponsored blogs link employees in all geographical locations, developing close-knit communications and employee camaraderie.

William H. Whyte’s 1956 classic, “The Organization Man” defined past generations of management as shifting from individual initiative to organizations in lock step, and this remains culturally deeply embedded. By contrast, management guru Peter Drucker was prescient with his view of the corporation as a human community built on trust and respect for workers. Indeed, now there is widespread recognition that collaborative management is the new paradigm, providing vastly better results.

Considering these shifts, here is my list of the top-10 management mistakes being perpetuated by entrenched old paradigms:

1. Withholding management information: Sure, some information is company confidential, but share what you know—quickly. Everyone needs to know what’s happening. Social networks and blogs typically leak news that may be “officially” announced weeks and even months later.

2. Top-down decision-making: Don’t creating hierarchical permission-steps. Enabling people to make decisions about their own work is the heart of the new paradigm.

3. Inflexible policies: No one is pleased when told, “It’s company policy.” Search for reasonable solutions to specific needs; remain flexible with employees, suppliers and customers.

4. Failure to collaborate: Ask for opinions, ideas, and improvement suggestions; empower implementation. Active programs must engage every employee.

5. Dodging blame: Accepting responsibility for mistakes and failures is part of being in charge. It generates respect.

6. Avoiding face-to-face communication: Know when text, email, or voice mails are not appropriate ways to handle a situation. Face-to-face discussion is always preferable for delicate situations.

7. Resisting change: In today’s rapidly changing business environment, it’s crucial to be open to change. Be flexible about accepting ideas and trying new ways.

8. Not prioritizing properly:  If every task is a priority, there are no priorities. You need to achieve an appropriate balance that allows you to lead employees and provide direction without destroying empowerment.

9. Micromanagement: Organization-driven managers become frustrated and begin to rely on micro-management to get employees to work harder. Lack of trust is very damaging.

10. Misunderstanding motivation: Know what truly motivates each individual. This may be greater work/life balance, flexible working hours, sense of achievement, responsibility, praise or being part of a team.

In the past, leaders used corporate-mandated ground rules to get results; a sensitive leader used to be regarded as a weak leader. Today’s best leaders show that sensitivity is the path to building a strong, adaptive organization. Good leadership shifts from mere accommodation of differences to recognition and empowerment of individual strengths.

The word “boss” is archaic, a relic of obsolete management paradigms. Today’s success comes through empowering others to perform.

>> Jim Pinto is a technology futurist, international speaker and automation industry commentator. You can email him at [email protected] or review his prognostications and predictions on his website:

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