The Competencies for 21st Century Manager


By

Prof. R.K. Gupta
Director
Sobhagya Consultancy & Marketing Services-India
E-mail: cityju@rediffmail.com
 


Key words: '21st Century Manager', 'modern manager',  'Management practice' and 'competencies for manager'

Never before there were so many challenges before the managers as are in 21st century. Not only the complexion of work force changing quickly but the environmental risk, rapid technological changes, globalization forces acting on organizations, severe competitive environment and Increasing demand on organizations by various stake holders make the role of modern managers complex and stress full. The traditional theories of management that developed from time to time in last 150 years including those from Adam Smith, Max Weber, Taylor, Fayol, Mayo and Peter Drucker and so on have given immense contribution to the management of organizations in twentieth century.

However the modern challenges before managers give scope for identifying some competencies that are crucial for 21st century management. The traditional view of manager as boss is long extinct. The management practice has over the decades transformed from supervision to the service role.

We do remember the punch line of Rotary International: 'Service above self'.

The phrase "Servant Leadership" was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in The Servant as Leader, an essay that he first published in 1970. In that essay, he said:

The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve
first
. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature. "

"The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people's highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?"

The other theory of Stewardship holds the possibility of shifting our expectations from people in power. Part of meaning of stewardship is to hold in trust the well being of some large entity-Our organization, our community, the earth itself. To hold something of value in trust calls for calls for placing service ahead of control, to no longer expect leaders to be in charge and out in front. There is pride in leadership it evokes images of direction. There is humility in stewardship it evokes images of service. Service is central to the idea of leadership. The idea of service through stewardship has been with us forever in religious context. The epic writing of India and various books like Arthashastra depict this. The bible mentions about this. The community creates the opportunity for a person to be in position of power. Power is bestowed upon by those we "lead'. Id we serve those who put us in our position, then in an organization then the recipients of our service and trusteeship are the core workers. They are the community and they are the ones to whom we become accountable. A board or executive may appoint us, but they are given their authority as much by the people doing the work as by any other set of owners ( Stewardship; Peter Block)

We can identify some important competencies of managers in 21st century:

Manager as Visionary : Running a company requires considerable skill, knowledge of administrative principles, organization, planning, estimating outcomes and knowing how to conduct proper personnel policies. But the successful manager is more than a technical wizard, he or she must be a visionary to give the kind of direction and inspiration that can bring a team to success.

Vision is the ability to see beyond simple business solutions and outcomes, it's the notion of being able to see beyond that to the creative best in a company and its people. It is the desire to see each member of a team is as successful as possible and to provide an atmosphere for growth. A visionary makes the work atmosphere open, accepting and a place where people aren't afraid to provide suggestions and make innovations. A visionary also isn't threatened by anyone who challenges and who appears to be better in areas in which the manager excels.

Manager as Leader : The difference between being a manager and being a leader is simple. Management is a career. Leadership is a calling. You don't have to be tall, well-spoken and good looking to be a successful leader. You don't have to have that "special something" to fulfill the leadership role. What you have to have is clearly defined convictions - and, more importantly, the courage of your convictions to see them manifest into reality. Only when you understand your role as guide and steward based on your own most deeply held truths can you move from manager to leader. Whether the group you oversee is called employees, associates, co-workers, teammates or anything else, what they are looking for is someone in whom they can place their trust. Someone they know is working for the greater-good - for them and for the organization. They're looking for someone not only that they can but that they want to follow. Because it is only when you have followers -people who have placed their trust in you - that you know you have moved into that leadership role. And the way you see it is that your organization is transcending all previous quality, productivity, innovation and revenue achievements. The manager can very effectively manage the status quo and do things in a way that delivers historical profitability. The leaders are the people who are really seeing the new opportunities and establishing the values for the organization. Leaders are people who do the following

  • 1. Develop great talent and makes the organization better simply by being a part of it
  • 2. See new opportunities and push the organization in new directions
  • 3. Act as a moral compass for the organization, someone whose values are going to be adopted by others in the company

The learning Manager : As information becomes the chief product of every business and knowledge continues to explode everyone will be a learner and the manager's foremost task will be to promote learning in the organization. Managers as facilitators of individual and organizational learning may act as instructors, coaches or mentors to other learners. Managers have a crucial facilitator role to play in the L&D process. Managers may also be agents of change in their organizations and through their own learning and development facilitate the learning of organization itself. The management learning takes place through management education, Management training and on the job learning (Learning & Development for Managers; Eugene Saddler-Smith; 2006)

Manager as communicator: As techniques for planning strategizing, decision-making and problem solving become common province of every one in organization, the need for improving communication will be paramount and managers will be increasingly using the dialogue and other communication tools. A manager has to be a great communicator if he wants to become a great manager. A great manager is one who has a vision. But, this vision will stay just that unless you communicate it properly. Communicating a vision doesn't mean you have large message boards with your vision written on them placed at strategic locations. It might be effective to catch attention but to retain that attention you are going to have to do something else. You have to make sure that your team understands your vision and shares your vision with you. Apart from articulating your vision good communication is essential to conducting business on a day-to-day basis.

The key need is for managers to be aware of and supported on 5 distinct competencies: Context Building, Active Listening, Coaching, Sharing and Engaging. Awareness and understanding, combined with the appropriate support of communications processes and information of each of these competencies is a prerequisite for the success of face-to-face communications program.

Competency

Definition

Communications Role

Context

Knowledge of company strategy;

Ability to link the strategy to the marketplace and to the department / team;

Can communicate customer needs and expectations to staff;

Can clearly help others understand the reasons behind and anticipated outcomes of change initiatives

Share information on business and market issues

Focus on building depth of understanding of business strategy and priorities

Provide opportunity for discussion / dialogue - leadership forums, etc.

Listening

Offers dedicated time to each employee, focusing on what they are saying;

Seeks clarity and understanding of the speakers position;

Probes for depth, clarity and root cause;

Focuses on the issue, not on the personality;

Guides dialogue through willingness and openness to alternate ideas;

Reports back regularly

Provide training

Provide ongoing skill development tips

Share best practice stories

Coaching

Recognizes and rewards good performance;

Provides feedback aligned to observed actions and behaviors immediately;

Seeks ways of developing staff through assignments;

Works with staff to identify development (training or otherwise) opportunities;

Provides examples using context

Provide skill development tips

Provide coaching tools

Provide training and development opportunities

Provide coaches to managers / supervisors

Sharing

Understands messages to be communicated and shares them appropriately and consistently;

Considers the needs of the audience(s);

Uses language and examples which are meaningful to the audience(s)

Provide messages and message maps

Provide training on communication delivery and planning

Engaging

Knows their employees;

Understands and uses appropriate motivators;

Seeks input and participation from all staff;

Provides opportunity based on skills, needs and desires

Provide training on various interpersonal skills

Provide engagement tips and tools in managers tool kit


(Source: www.strategiconnections.com)

Manager as change agent : As technology and information reshape all our lives, change management will be business as usual and managers will be change agents who guide everyone to find and embrace the best new practices and further managers become organizer of knowledge available in the organization specially that dwelling in heads of several employees. This is crucial task for success of organizations in competitive world and to emerge as world-class organizations. This is particularly true of large multi divisional organizations.

Management is a Multi-task function : As boundaries disappear within organizations and the world at large, the scope of management will grow and managers will be Organizational Development experts, diversity management experts, facilitation experts, and consultation experts.
 


Prof. R.K. Gupta
Director
Sobhagya Consultancy & Marketing Services-India
E-mail: cityju@rediffmail.com
 

Source: E-mail August 24, 2009

 

         

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