Management – Changing landscape and its vitality for a professional

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One of the significant realizations that inspired me to write this post is the realization that most professionals become leaders such as managers in most parts of their careers. Most of them, no matter how old they are, cannot manage people in the changing landscape. What was considered effective a decade ago, may not be effective today.

An inherently participative model drives modern-day team leadership unlike the hierarchical model of the industrial age. Organizations are performing research into the effective management of workplace today dominated by millennials. A hierarchical model where followers are asked to do specific things without critique and critical thinking are things of the past. The stick-and-carrot model of past can do more harm in the modern day than benefiting the company or a leader.

The leader-follower relationship quality prediction started in the 1980’s through the vertical-dyadic theory.The theory investigates the relationship building over a period, predicting how good a leader can be. We can broadly classify the relationship of followers with the leader as in-group and out-group. In in-group members have a higher affinity with the leader with better communication, and they praise each other. In out-group, the members are imposed or told what to do without two-way communication. LMX (Leadership exchange theory) is an improved version of the dyadic theory, where there is a continuum of the relationship between leaders and followers. There are cases where followers have high interaction with leader and situations where the leader has formal communication. As a follower, a person can take steps to get from out-group to in-group, and it is not always up to the leader to take steps. A leader can influence a follower in a way that is beneficial for the team and the organization, which is known as influencing organizational citizenship behavior (OCB). This leads to the follower taking more than what the job description states and ensuring high-quality exchange between the leader and the followers. A leader has a certain span of control which can be used to influence the followers to behave this way. The more OCB we have in the high-quality network, then the higher the performance of the company. There is also the social identity component when people identify that they are a part of the company. The way the organization behaves becomes a part of who they are and how they describe themselves, and which in turn leads them to perform better. 

As a team leader, to bring followers into the in-group from out-group, one must try building bonds with open communication and appreciation of their efforts. Influencing organization citizenship behavior within the leader’s span of control would lead them to perform better and providing them with the social identity, and higher purpose of their work would inspire them to work closely with the team and leader. In addition to this, researchers have found out that when a leader or a set of people believe that a group of people can work effectively, setting high expectations, they would inturn become high performers. This is otherwise called the Pygmalion effect – the phenomenon whereby higher expectations lead to an increase in performance. It is hence vital to ensure that high expectations of colleagues or followers, else the thought of low expectations would lead to low performing employees. Psychological safety is one of the most critical factors of effective and top performing teams as identified by Google. A leader must ensure psychological safety, providing an open line of communication and ensuring their opinions are valued without repercussions to their ideas and critiques. Convert disengaged people to show out their potential and through active participation and demonstration of the cognitive and emotional self. Acknowledging uncertainty, interdependence, encouraging critique, idea exchange and modeling curiosity through questions should be the given importance at the workplace.

The four of the most valuable things to ensure success in the future workplace is psychological safety, creativity, critical thinking and cognitive flexibility (or the ability to see the problem from multiple viewpoints).