I started my professional life in a large corporation. I always thought the managers with the largest offices, the best titles have the best and most successful teams. Until I came up with the idea in a personal experience, how do the managers in the offices that are isolated from their employees and customers get the relevant information to make the right decisions?
Wouldn’t it be better, if the managers would have their offices there where they have more contact with the customers to learn more about their needs? After all, the most important information comes directly from the customer and determines the success of the company.
Of course, certain positions and titles give authority and power to determine the rules. But does this really make the whole company successful? I then learned that good leadership has little to do with it. Good management and leadership means solving problems and help other people to unleash their full potential.
I often hear the same beliefs in companies that prevent excellence. With this article I would like to briefly explain and demystify five beliefs.
1. Belief „I make all decisions best alone“
The belief that today one can make all decisions alone or solve all problems alone is a widespread and dangerous belief. It must have worked well in the past – or at least seemed to work. But in today’s complex and digital world this will fail. A decision can only be as good as the quality of the information on which it is based. But everyone have only few information of a fact.
It is a wise approach to delegate control and decision-making authority to where the best and most useful knowledge is: to someone who has the relevant information and can interpret the facts and the problem correctly. Mostly these are the people who have direct contact with the customers. Here managers should learn to let go and reflect which decisions they really have to make alone. The good thing about it is that they can now focus on strategic tasks in the company.
2. Belief „Bigger is better“
When managers think of growth, they usually have the image of a bigger company in mind. Traditionally, companies are structured like this: the number of employees increases, then a team lead and several departments are introduced. If the company becomes even bigger, these structures are enlarged. However, this quickly becomes inefficient.
Companies grow efficiently when they scale. This means which process worked well and how can we repeat it?
The complexity theory says that it is better for a growing company not to think of „bigger“, but of „more“ – in other words, more small units that are virtually repeatable and copyable. A group of several small systems is more adaptable than a group of several large units. Information flows faster and more transparently to where it is needed.
In the corporate context, this means small and many interconnected teams make a company more flexible than a few large departments. Employees are no longer absolutely assigned in fixed departments, but they can take on certain roles in the company in different contexts and contribute all their talents. Suddenly, work makes sense again when employees feel they can unleash their full potentials.
In the future, more and more companies will start hiring freelancers to scale their processes and to handle production peaks. These companies will consits of virtual and distributed teams.
3. Belief „Everyone must always be onsite.“
Many executives still believe that everyone must be onsite for a meeting – or everyone always has to be in the office onsite. Or there is the belief that employees who work „virtually“ are less productive than when they are present in the office.
The reason for this is that managers are not being able to let go.
Furthermore, technology is often misused or there is a lack of knowledge about how the tools available for communication and networking are used properly. Tools are introduced the wrong way and used for the wrong purposes. Then the benefit for all participants is not clear. So every technology fpr collaboration in a virtual and distributed team will fail.
The fact that virtual work is not suitable for everyone is fine. But a lot of employees today choose their job exactly according to these requirements: to be able to work flexibly from anywhere. Many employees are much more satisfied with such a way of working. Companies should establish such a work environment to be able to attract talents in the future. Technology offers new ways and opportunities for collaboration and communication at a distance. There are so many simple tools on the market that even smaller companies can implement immediately.
4. Belief „The leaders are to blame for everything!“
I often hear this both from management consultants or from employees.
You have to look at this from a different perspective: My experience has rather been that many employees are hardly aware of their potential and talents. Perhaps you also know people who change from position to position or from job to job. The reason for this is often that these people have not yet found their own passion. Or they have so many interests that they cannot decide what they want to do best – so-called scanner personalities.
Good managers integrate their employees‘ wishes into the company’s goals. But if the employee is not aware of himself/herself will he/she feels uncomfortable despite all the commitment of the manager in the company. Only if people do what they are good at and what they love the most they can unleash their full potential. I have often seen that in classical talent management it is neglected to coach the employee to this own clarity.
5. Belief „We should transform everything immediately.
I love people who are moving forward and doing things.
But the initial motivation will quickly turn into frustration when the mistake is made of wanting to do and change everything at once. You have to focus.
Usually this is initiated by consultants.
I know many managers who feel disillusioned.
For example, it doesn’t work to switch from 100 percent authority today to zero authority in your team tomorrow when you think of an agile work environment. Even if a manager would like to do this personally and is convinced of, employees will be overwhelmed to suddenly have to make all decisions on their own.
Change must take place in small steps and with an individual roadmap. In my opinion, a transformation in a company will only be profitable and sustainable if the motivation for it is not based on negative drivers such as „fear“, but on positive drivers such as „growth mindset“ and „success“.
These beliefs only give a small insight the way companies think. There is much more. Don’t be blinded.