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The Manager of Today

Posted by on January 7, 2013

The role of the manager is evolving quite a bit thanks to the connected, social, and collaborative world we now live in.  Corporations and schools around the world originally modeled their approaches based on the way the military did things.  We needed everyone wearing the same uniform, showing up, taking orders, and doing the same thing, with a few people at the top giving the orders and making the decisions (the topic of education is one for another post).  This is the elite small group of people that were “in the know.”  This is how many companies today have been built (and many are still run this way) so it’s no wonder that overcoming corporate culture is such a challenge.  The word “manager” is in itself outdated as it typically refers to someone with power who exerts control.  If you look up some of the synonyms for “manager” you get words such as “slavedriver,” “boss,” “zookeeper,” “handler,” and others.

Is that really what a manager is?  The words we  use to describe and build our companies are old yet they are ingrained in the way we work, hire, train, and on-board our employees.  It’s time we revisit what these things actually mean and the new “collaborative workforce” is making sure we do just that.

The role of the manager has changed.  Everything mentioned above used to be true before employees had a voice and had the ability to stay connected to each other and information.  Managers are no longer the keepers of the information, they are no longer the rulers at the top of the tower-the enforcers.  Managers can no longer lead by fear and can’t afford to conduct bi-yearly performance reviews, “connecting to work,” has changed all of that and has killed off the management models and approaches of the past.  Command-and-control is dead.

Today, a manager relies heavily on the feedback and ideas of employees to make decisions.  Today a manager is transparent and open with his team and shares information.  Today a manager knows that knowledge in the hands of one is nothing compared to knowledge in the hands of many.  Today a manager knows the value of engaging and inspiring employees and provides feedback on a regular basis (through the connected and collaborative workplace) instead of every six months.  Today a manager recognizes that he is nothing without his employees.  Today a manager isn’t scared of technology.  Today a manager focuses on collaboration, communication, and connection.

Today a manager doesn’t look down at his employees from his ivory tower, today…he sits with them.



  • Nice article Jacob!

    I really like your focus on changing the way many people look at the role. I think there is a great deal of comparison to be made between this article and the notion of Manager vs Leader. I think you’re spot on in that a manager “doesn’t look down at his employees from his ivory tower”, nor should anyone who desires to lead people.

    I guess what I’m curious about is what makes a manager with these traits different than someone who desires to lead their team/idea/product to greatness?

    For example, the concepts you’ve laid out in your article:
    “relies heavily on the feedback and ideas of employees to make decisions.”
    “ transparent and open with his team and shares information.”
    “..knows that knowledge in the hands of one is nothing compared to knowledge in the hands of many.”
    “..focuses on collaboration, communication, and connection.”

    “Human Capital” is becoming more of a focal point in businesses and this shift in thinking you’re talking about is a great step towards empowering a workforce to be more collaborative.

    Well played sir. Well played.

    • Thanks for the kind words Maurice. There is a fine line between being a leader and a manager. In my opinion great managers are also great leaders, in other words, being a great leader is a characteristic of a great manager. Someone who desires to lead a team to greatness can really only accomplish this by being a leader. Managing by fear and force will only get you so far, but it won’t get you greatness.

      Thanks again for the comment