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Thinking far ahead: the manager of the future

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

by Mike Clark-Madison

Allow me to gaze into my crystal ball for a bit here. What is the business world going to be like in the future? Not tomorrow, but in 15 years or so?

That's the subject of a recent report out of Australia, con­ducted by Boston Consulting Group for a government workforce-develop­ment effort, looking at the skills senior managers will need in 2020. (An aside: Does your enterprise think this far ahead? Does your local, state or federal government?) Despite the different lay of the land Down Under, most of the insights seem relevant regardless of nationality. They include:

Major changes in response to a much more diverse workforce and workplace, in every way. This includes not just more ethnic and gender diver­sity (the latter being a major call-to-action of the report), but also interna­tional and global workforces supporting global enterprises and industries. One also must factor in generational diver­sity, with baby boomers, Generation X and Generation Y all in leadership roles.

Managers and executives "will be asked to balance a wider range of interests" than just the bottom line and shareholder value. These include employee satisfaction and work-life balance as well as social responsibility.

"The age of the generalist manager is coming to an end, and there is likely to be a return to leadership by those with deep knowledge of their industry." Presumably, this would mean more pro­moting from within, or at least climbing the ladder from entry level, rather than having free-ranging MBA-bearing free agents dominate the upper echelons.

"Executives will need to become more team-focused. The cult of the CEO ? is likely to decline, with greater focus on the team rather than the individual."

Remember, this isn't just surface-level pop analysis of business trends. This report was commissioned to help shape investment decisions by an entire national government in a globalized business world. Perhaps by definition, it echoes the real-world experience of today's hands-on managers, the senior leaders of tomorrow.

Bottom-Line Idea

Time-management pros tell us to give ourselves rewards for accomplishing tasks. Put the same principle to work with your team. For example, instead of hanging out in the morning over bagels and coffee, bring in food for the team in the mid-afternoon, after the team's gotten its important work done. If the team hasn't gotten the work done, then maybe you can save the food for another day when there's more time.

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