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Loyalty or Problem-Solving Ability: Leadership

- By Dwaipayan, 10 October 2020 | 5 MIN READ


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Markets have become dynamic, the old deal in business has changed. In the past, the workforce traded loyalty for job security. When you showed up to work, made a decent effort, and stayed out of trouble, you were generally secure in your job. I remember, when I graduated from college in the early 1970s, one of my friends landed up a job with Bosch. Out of exhalation, his mother cried with joy. “You’re set for life,” she said. That brings us to the question, are you set for life today with any organization?

No! Lifetime occupation is a thing of the past. Over the last number of years, I’ve been trying to figure out what the new deal is. I’ve interviewed some of the top managers around the world and asked, “If it’s not loyalty you need from your workforce today, what do you want?” The responses have been fairly universal: “I want people with problem-solving ability and are willing to take initiative.

I want folks working for me who perform like they own the place.” In other words, top managers, given a preference, would like empowered people—individuals they can appreciate and trust to make powerful business decisions, even when top managers are around or not. That brings us to the second question, does the workforce object to that?

No! This time I’ve asked people, “What do you want from an organisation if job security is no longer available?” Again, the answers have been pretty universal. Employees lookout after two things they want. First, they would like honesty. “Don’t lie to us. Don’t tell us at one point there will be no layoffs and then in a few months surprise us with major downsizing.” Second, people want to learn new skills. In this competitive world, at some point, if an employee has to look for a new job or a new role—either inside or outside the present organization—they need to be better equipped with better skills and be more valuable than ever before. What better way to become more productive and valuable than to be able to take initiative and become a problem solver and think and act like an owner.

Bullseye! We have an agreement. Then what is the problem? Most people will argue that managers are not willing to let go, that they still want to keep control. They talk a good game, but still would like to be in charge and want good subordinates who follow their superiors. Today work demands that managers need to be effective, must think and act in different ways. Read One Minute Manager

Summary of One Minute Manager

1. Set three goals for each of your employees, which you can review in one minute or less.

2. Use one-minute praise to give your employees positive feedback.

3. A one-minute reprimand is more than enough to express your dissatisfaction.

Back in the 1980s, a manager classically supervised five people—the reach of control was one manager to five direct reports. Organizations today are customer-driven, cost-effective, fast, flexible, and continuously improving. It is not a fiction anymore to find one manager managing twenty-five to seventy-five direct reports.

The emergence of virtual organizations—where managers are instructed to supervise people, they never meet face-to-face before. Today’s business setup is entirely a different landscape emerging in the world of work. The long-established hierarchy of leadership has evolved into a new directive, what we call as the empowerment of individuals. 

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