29 June 2011

Out With The Old….

You can take it as a given that managers of the future will differ markedly from managers of the past.

While technical knowledge will remain an extremely important commodity, it’s the things we refer to as “soft skills” that will become increasingly useful for those wearing the leader’s hat. Soft skills refer to the ability to work effectively with people of different professional backgrounds and take advantage of their skills and expertise. They refer to the ability to lead and inspire, as well as the ability to confront problems from a number of different angles and not be constrained by the limitations of conventional frameworks.

Why are these abilities so important? Unlike the “good old days”, managers can no longer work in their own little bubble. These days, a lot of business problems are not just simply marketing problems or finance problems – they’re business problems with implications across all areas including marketing, finance and logistics. That’s why new-age managers need to be able to recruit expertise from different areas and leverage that into creating effective solutions. Additionally, an increasing percentage of management work is project-based (implementing IT systems, starting a new business line, ramping up an existing business), so the ability to build and successfully manage a team is critical.

Significantly, the need for a multi-faceted business approach won’t be the only challenge that the next generation of managers will face. While managers of the past had a long time to develop their craft, the next generation will be expected to take on the senior roles much earlier in their careers. With no interim option available due to the non-recruitment policies adopted by many organisations over the last two-decades, senior management roles will fall to those in their 20s and 30s when the bulk of the current hierarchy, now aged in their 50s and 60s, retire in the next three to five-years.

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