The current theory on the future of management, going around in some circles, (courtesy of Gary Hamel, somebody people pay attention to) reads as follows: (a) digital will take over many managerial roles; (b) the current average is 1 leader per 4.7 individual contributors (Hamel says, have a bit of faith in the stats); (c) ‘redeploying half of managers, we would see a $9 trillion rise in economic output in OECD countries’. Hamel Dixit.
Not sure what ‘redeploying’ really means but, what I see is an opportunity for a free upgrade, like the one you get in some airlines (once a decade). We may be able to (finally) upgrade management into leadership. Up the curve! We are making more room for leading. This can only be good news.
But of course, the ‘redeployment’ will come with some effort attached. The one of understanding leadership, that is. And this is the real question. What are the new leadership competences and capabilities required for a new organization that is more ‘digitalised’ and with, perhaps, less managerial layers?
Is this something that leaders and managers of the average organization have thought about? Does it still sound a bit theoretical? A bit headlines?
Without falling into a caricature, the traditional organization and its traditional management, followed a military model of generals, divisions, headcounts, heads of so and so, etc. Leadership was that thing you had at the top, more or less. Similarly, for years, nobody has questioned the conventional wisdom of distinguishing management and leadership in caricature terms, by default relegating management to a second class citizenship. I have always questioned that wisdom. Any good leader is also a manager of some sort, some things, some processes. Many good managers are also leaders in their own right.I suggest that the distinction will be obsolete soon.
Digitalisation (and I am not talking websites and apps) will require managers managing the algorithm(s). Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be more and more embedded in strategic decision making, for example, and customer services (including segmentation of customers). New management that is not body management will be required. Is that managing? Leading? OK, this is a conversation for another day.
The one of today is about that free upgrade. We need to polish our leadership development, our competency system and all the HR/OD toolkits that were conceived yesterday. For me, yesterday, in this area, is 10 years max. And 10 is very, very generous.