The Hybrid Theory – beyond management & leadership…
It’s the 21st century and, being an ‘evolved species’, we’ve come to recognise the requirement for progressive adaptation in response to external stimuli and environmental conditions to maintain competitive advantage. Civilised society has put comfortable distance between ‘natural selection’ and survival.
From perpetual battles under empirical regimes to co-operative negotiation and global trading through ‘organisations’, complex corporate structures emerged. These monoliths aligned behind key strategic goals and objectives, their functions deliberate; contrived; planned; projected; measured; marketed; invested in and reported on.
Markets developed from parochial bazaars to global exchanges with the advent of an industrial revolution and mass production; standardisation and uniformity creating exponential growth for both businesses and markets.
In the transition from the battleground to the Board room emerged the “Manager”, bastion of the organisation and custodian of all resources, a individual in an elevated position whose responsibility was to co-ordinate efforts; create positive synergy and profit through supervision.
With the passing of time, ‘manager’ became a clichéd suffix to myriad job titles – process manager; R&D manager; finance manager; facilities manager; business development manager; general manage; production manager; store manager; brand manager – the list goes on. If it’s a discernable function within an organisation – it needed a “manager” overseeing it even where that created oxymoron’s such as “creative manager” (is the creative process “managed” or “facilitated”?)
Management became a ‘career aspiration’ but, unlike other professions, demonstrable ability through academic study and qualification or subjecting oneself to external scrutiny and assessment remains neither required nor revered.
Management became insular, an esoteric circle of superiors with notional power over their subordinates. It developed meta-language. It became scientific and transactional – demanding conformity to a single best way of doing something whilst rewarding compliance through a wage and ‘bit rate’ pay became the motivational tool.
But a peaceful revolution has been underway, usurping the “manager” and replacing them with the “leader”, a demi-mythical being whose omnipresence and omniscience; charisma and hypnotic oration of a utopian future captivates the mind where the manager can only command the body.
Today’s employees want an almost spiritual engagement with their employers. Meaningful work is now the bedfellow of salary. Subservience is no longer an intrinsic part of the psychological contract; respect is something people, and not positions, require to earn from their colleagues.
Offices have become open plan with nothing and no-one ‘off limits’. Managers are subjected to ever greater scrutiny under the watchful gaze of their staff and are unable to hide behind closed doors and busy telephone extensions.
Traditional transactional management is being replaced with transformational traits in effective E.I.; NLP; coaching and mentoring. Organisations are now expected to achieve employee engagement through devolved and dispersed power; greater autonomy for individuals and the alignment of personal and corporate values.
Interestingly, the revolution appears not to have had any affect on the bedrock of every organisation, ‘the bottom line’. Investors still want a return on investment.
It’s this dual track coupled with flatter, more open corporate structures that will mould the 21st century “Leadager”, the skilled professional sitting on a continuum equidistant from traditional ‘managing’ and emergent ‘leading’, the person responsible for synthesising the desires of the staff with the aspirations of the organisation; for sourcing and securing human and financial inputs and changing them into valuable outputs and outcomes.
The hybrid will recognise and contextualise their actions and reactions as a result of a highly sensitive and evolved, situational radar that attunes responses psychoanalytically, leading to the kind of congruent behaviour that draws the trust; admiration and loyalty of their ‘colleagues’.
One eye on key performance metrics and management information, the other keenly trained on market fluctuations, emerging trends and opportunities, they remain cognisant of the agreed organisational mission their colleagues value.
The hybrid will need exceptional personal integrity; the ability to motivate and captivate, drawing many facets and disciplines together effortlessly.
Failure to maintain the highest standards will result in rejection from the group, hierarchical management being an anachronism replaced by consensual followership.
The last great challenge facing this highly evolved individual will be balancing collaborative; flat management structures with discretionary power whilst preventing “flash leadership” creating the kind of chemical combustion that will blow high performing teams apart instantaneously.