There is a new boogeyman striking fear into top executives.
In the past decade managers have gotten pretty well brainwashed in their hero-worship of the caped crusader called Empowerment. They know it’s a good thing to strive for in their organizations. They even understand that their own work-life balance depends on it. They realize that only by driving decision-making authority as far down the hierarchy as possible will they themselves enjoy a good life as they finally get to work on some other cool things.
Trouble is, while managers learned the what and the why about empowerment, they didn’t pay enough attention to the how to go about delivering it to their organizations. That is, except for the part about avoiding the boogeyman like you’d avoid the plague. Who is this boogeyman? He’s called micro-management.
I continue to see this very alarming trend where top executives are not involved enough in day-to-day operations under the ignoble guise of not being a boss who micro-manages. As a result, they have become so detached and out of the mainstream consciousness of their companies, they may as well take a permanent vacation. No one would notice.
However what we are noticing, is that at the other extreme of micro-managing, is this very large, very hollow leadership void being created, a proverbial black hole of despair. As executives focus on new product development, and adapting or growing their business models in our brave new world, they leave their operational bread and butter processes floundering at the hands of mid-level managers who are not yet equipped for their roles. Mentorship has been abandoned, and dismissed as something superfluous if you espouse the ideal of empowerment instead.
Huh? How did we get this misguided notion that empowerment was some magic elixir?
Thanks in part to Thomas L. Friedman and his legions of admirers, ‘flattening’ is the new buzzword of the day, and in addition to the “Globalization 3.0” flattening of which Friedman speaks, organizational hierarchies are again coming under fire. Paper placemats of horizontal org charts are available for doodling in every HR lunchroom on the planet; those inverted triangles never made much sense to us anyway… smashing them down and flattening everything out is way easier.
But guess what folks, with all of this Learning 101, Web 2.0, Globalization 3.0, and Life A-Z happening in our world, we need managers more than ever before.
We just need them doing the right things. Like delivering worthwhile work to us in everyday examples that are close to home. Close to us.
Every single day, people at all levels of organizations are asking me, via the Managing with Aloha coaching programs, to “tell my boss why we need him/her to _________.” They fill in the blank with all sorts of requests.
They want the boss back; they want a strategy-mapping, consistently driving, objective, organized, and predictable boss with an inspiring vision and championship team mission. They want high expectations, they want direction, they want leadership, and they want coaching and mentorship.
So if you’re the boss, check back in, would you? You’ve been missed.
Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is the founder and head coach of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership. For more of her ideas, click to her Thursday columns in the archives, or download her manifesto: Managing with Aloha, on ChangeThis.com.
Rosa’s Previous Thursday Column was: Discover your 4-Fold Capacity.