AI Won’t Make You Successful. Great Managers Will

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Jul 2, 2019

“As you read this book, keep in mind that the quality of your manager and team leaders is the single biggest factors in your organization’s success.


This quote is from my current read: It’s the Manager: Gallup finds the quality of managers and team leaders is the single biggest factor in your organization’s long-term success.
I must tell you that I started reading this book on my last 16 hour flight to New York and I could not put it down. As I read statements like the one above, I thought, Yep, my thoughts exactly. Numerous times I have written about the pendulum swinging in a different direction and this just confirms it. The quality of managers will determine the quality of people you have. Great managers equal great workforce. Bad managers equal demoralized workforce and high turnover.

The new management dynamic

As I work with leaders across the globe, my underlying theme is this new leadership dynamic: We must develop and or choose better managers. Managers are euphemisms for anyone that manages people, from the C-suite to the supervisors. Technical skills and people skills are entirely two different things. As the findings from the Project Oxygen study done by Google show, we have to go “soft.” Historically, we have relied on technical and we see where that has got us.

I could be the greatest deal maker ever, but that does not mean I can manage a team of deal makers. The greatest marketer is not the greatest market leader. The skills needed to close that deal are the exact opposite to coaching and motivating a team or person. We have to change the filter because the organization body is broken.

While you read article after article about the changing workplace, robots, AI, millennials, etc., etc. little is mentioned about the practice of managing people. The industrial revolution required a specific managing style, which, for the most part, was anchored in a command and control mindset. The arrival of computers in the workplace required a different style of working. With that gradual transition it is not mind boggling to realize we need to rethink the managing people dynamic.

The new workplace

The new workforce – especially the younger generations – wants work to have a social mission and purpose. They don’t want old-style command-and-control bosses. They want coaches who inspire them, communicate with them frequently, and develop their strengths.

There is also a great article, again from Gallup — “The Future of Your Workplace Depends on Your Purpose” — which covers the same type findings. It zeros in on the need to “shift your managers’ mindsets from being a boss to being a coach.”

This is a call from the mountaintop for a major effort to be put in place to develop the most significant bottleneck to your organization’s success: Your Managers. Managers have to develop the ability to adapt their organizations to rapid changes; there is a tsunami headed at every organization.

Gallup’s research shows the most important person in your organization to lead or guide this change is a new type leader. As everything else is transforming in the org space, we can’t expect to meet these new demands with an old leadership mindset. Especially if our foundation is being rattled from all sides.

Enough with the AI, robotics and technical aspects

I would love to see more of these kinds of shifts around leadership written about than article after article around AI, robotics, millennials, Gen Z, etc. None of this will mean anything unless we fix the connector to all of them and those are the people managing your workforce.

We concentrate on P&L as we should, but there are other dynamics which have a huge effect on organizational health. We have our meetings around initiatives, strategy and so on, but it’s manager effectiveness we have to get on the agenda. This is a collaborative effort from the C-suite to Learning & Development.

Strategic objective: Build better leaders

The key strategic objective needs to be: “Build Better Leaders.” Three words that could begin the process of confronting the winds of change. Three words that if ignored, create a stalemate that will have organizations running around like bumper cars.

When you build great managers — ones who can maximize the potential of every team member — you will deliver to every one of your employees what they most wan: A great job and a great life.

This, my friends, is THE FUTURE OF WORK!