Back to blog

Is Management Leadership Dead?

on 25 April 2018

Tags: ,

Posted by Kevin Senior

Are you providing leadership to your team? Do you have a good understanding of who does what in your team and how long it takes? Are you inspiring your workers to be more successful? Are you spending all of your time managing paperwork or clients, leaving no time for managing your employees? Are your employees happy and productive? If you aren’t sure about the answers to these questions, why aren’t you? Finally, how could you improve your leadership?

Leadership used to be something that was commonly discussed in companies. How to inspire workers and plan for the future were not just important principles, but crucial to how leaders viewed themselves. Now, however, it often seems that while companies and business owners or entrepreneurs are focusing on their industry leadership, they are abdicating the leadership of their employees. 

Nevertheless, it is never too late to become a great leader. Small steps now will pay off huge dividends in the future by building a more motivated staff, achieving real teamwork and collaboration, reducing employee turnover, and creating the conditions for success.


The Growth of Human Resources

Once upon a time, a personnel department assisted with the hiring and firing, made sure that employees were paid, and managed the employee benefits. Gradually, the personnel department was rebranded as “Human Resources” and an ostensibly small department was soon expanding in size and influence. There are a number of reasons for these changes, but more often than not, it came down to risk mitigation and legal protection. Concerns about the legal obligations of the employer, from staff training to wrongful dismissals, among many other legitimate concerns related to employees, led companies to build stronger human resources departments.


Skipping Employee Issues

Many managers quickly embraced the growth of a larger human resources department. Few of us enjoy the process of finding, interviewing, and hiring employees – furthermore, why shouldn’t such a crucial area of business practice be specialised? Moreover, suddenly employees with questions about their pay, time off, or other benefits could be referred elsewhere, leaving more time for business owners to take care of larger, more important matters, like strategy (or simply finding more clients!).

The problem is that many managers began to use “contact HR” as a default response to most employee questions or concerns. For some companies, this reached the point where the managers were no longer managing their employees. Everything employee-related was referred elsewhere rather than being dealt with, or more to the point, understood, by management.

Issues with staff, or even simply their practical observations, may go unreported to management until those issues become crises. Keep in mind that annual performance reviews are not times of leadership – that’s for the rest of the year – so, by the time the manager, or leader, realises there is a problematic pattern unfolding, she may have already lost or burnt out the best employees in the department in question.

By rightly empowering specialist hiring and administrative personnel, then, many small business leaders can consequentially allow themselves to be too far removed from on-the-floor, day-to-day operations – and people – and, thus, opportunities to conduct essential problem-solving.


Putting the Super in Supervisor!

It is vital that managers remember that their jobs are to guide and facilitate the work of staff, in addition to overseeing projects or communicating with clients. Referring employees’ concerns to HR could lead employees to feel that their leader isn’t focused on taking responsibility for managing them. However, by seeking to listen to and understand staff better, managers can hope to successfully foster a real sense of team spirit.

What can business owners and team leaders be doing to help their staff more? How about talking to workers about their projects and concerns and providing them with a platform to share their observations and experiences? Leaders should inspire their teams to have greater success. People often think of leadership in regards to films that show football coaches giving an inspiring talk that spurs their teams on to victory. An inspiring speech could be important but successful teams are built on ongoing hard work and a strong team ethic. 

Through time, team members learn they can rely on each other and their leader. They know they are working towards a common goal and that they will all receive the credit and rewards for their success – now that’s leadership.


About this author: Kevin Senior

Managing Director at Glasscubes. With over 30 years experience working with businesses of all sizes and industries, Kevin brings success to fast growing companies advising on best practices and growth lead technology solutions.