businessmen-152572_640Managers versus Leaders

One of the disturbing developments I have noticed in a career stretching over 30 years in length is the rise of the manager and the demise of the leader.

Back in the 90’s when everybody was talking about “the new economy” businesses removed layers within organisations and “empowered” people to get on with it and make decisions. This enabled businesses to make major productivity gains and with the advent of the Enterprise Resource Planning systems businesses became quicker and more efficient.

Being a project manager you role was to keep the team motived and drive the timelines whilst making it fun! We didn’t have mobile phones or emails it was down to energy and strength or personality and charisma that made things happen.

Then something happened. I don’t know what it was but suddenly there were managers everywhere. Process and people were managed. Countries were managed by their politicians there was more emphasis on measuring everything; KPI’s; Scorecards; targets all leading to people managing their processes and business in such a way as to meet the measures not what was good for the business.

I think this trend has led to the phenomenon where managers are being paid massive bonuses and have no risk associated with the remunerations. It has also led to a lot of the scandals we see in the banks and other organisations.

This trend has to stop. We need leaders to be back in the forefront of business and driving the growth that the economies need.

My gut feel is that the true leaders will make a resurgence in business. The tools available now in terms of social media and collaboration and the “sharing” economy means that the managers have nothing to hide behind anymore.
Hopefully this will lead to innovation and risk taking and not just managing what currently exists.

I for one believe that the leaders ate the most important management resources we need in the 21st century world of business.