Wednesday 24 June 2015

Leading and managing in the new world of work

The diagram below represents in a simple yet profound way the ecosystem you encounter every day as a leader.

We are living in the greatest entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial revolution in history, and as a consequence a new world of work is with us. To thrive in this new world requires more than ever before a deep understanding of interconnectedness and an ability and willingness to connect the dots and to be emotionally connected with the people playing with them.

A key characteristic of this new world is self-management. Workplace democracy sometimes referred to as workers self-management, has been a driver of the new world of work where people now plan, organise and control themselves. They don't need or want industrial revolution style managers. I myself have been inspired by the work of Ricardo Semler detailed in his book 'Maverick - The Success Story Behind the World's Most Unusual Workplace.' Semler's work was part of the inspiration for my Maverick Thinkers Studio.

Is there an app for that? is now a very common question with the answer almost always yes! The rise of freelancers, portfolio workers, and people using the Internet of Things to make their living and their life is also unprecedented.

Peter Drucker is often referred to as the father of 21st century management. He's certainly a voice to be reckoned with long after his death. And I suspect he will be for all time. I have many favourites from his wisdom. The one below ranks highly.

Why do so many people still think people can be managed?

My short answer is "Beats me."

Have you let go of the no longer relevant management where you planned, organised and controlled what people did or did't do?

Management today is about Processes, Policies, Procedures, Practices, Systems (PPPPS’s). You can read more about this here. Management today is essentially about What and How always in the context of When and Where and Why and Who. Rudyard Kipling was onto this long ago.

“I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
and How and Where and Who.”
Rudyard Kipling

Today who is always before do and why before what and how. A deep understanding of where and when is paramount.

The key focus of my leadership and mentoring development work is on who because I believe that real leadership is fundamentally about who we are as one-of-a-kind human beings.

Self-leadership is everyone's business and therefore self-awareness is critical.

The more acute our self-awareness of course the greater our awareness of others and therefore our ability and willingness to lead for them.

Purpose (reason/intention/meaning) and possibility (vision in the old business language) are paramount too.

Meaning and work are now deeply connected and drive the self-leadership and self-management phenomenon.

One of the underlying reasons for low employee engagement worldwide is because there's a mismatch between what your employees want and what you think they want. Meaningful work (hence purpose and possibility) is at the top of the want list. Read more about this here.

Underpinning the new work of work is massive changes in places, programs and platforms.

Today there's a platform for everything. Movements and tribes are everywhere. We're driven by a deep desire to belong, find meaning and share, and to make sense of our world. All is made simpler of course by social media and the Internet of Things. The paradox of course is that everything is also much more complicated and we can easily get paralysed by the countless choices available. The surge in online learning mean there's a program for just about anything. See Udemy and Lynda (now owned by LinkedIn) just two examples of zillions.

Added to all this is the never before value we place on third places (think cafes, clubs, and the myriad of ways we "meet" with each other online).

Sense-making is key to finding your way in this new world.

If you're not familiar with sense-making check out the work of Karl E. Weick.

Below are the key shifts in the world of work that help me to make sense of what's happening, to find greater meaning, and to help my clients to do the same.

If you'd like help with making sense of any of the aspects of how this new world of work is impacting and influencing your world of work please contact me on +61 418 807 898 or email your questions to

Be remarkable.

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