Are Managers becoming Obsolete? The Rise of Leadership in the Post-COVID Era
In our work as Leadership Consultants and Coaches, we find the term Manager and Leader are often used to refer to the same role.
Whilst there are of course some overlaps in business and we would argue that both play an essential role in enabling an organisation to thrive, our experience tells us that management and leadership are two very different things.
A leader focuses on the people, connects with them, motivates them and encourages them to aim for success.
A manager on the other hand focuses on the things that maintain the structure, processes and efficiency within the business.
A leader sees each individual, their strengths, challenges, wellbeing and even their story and weaves that into their personal approach to connect with them.
Their aim is to bring out the best in each individual, so that as a team, each person is heavily invested in driving the business towards success.
On the other hand, a manager’s focus is often towards managing things. That could be projects, systems, processes, resources, departments or similar.
The working landscape has changed
Since COVID, the people in the organisation hold more power than ever before and businesses are having to work exceptionally hard to retain their talent, to build loyalty and trust and to survive in what is a constantly changing and unpredictable working environment.
Prior to COVID, businesses needed managers.
Good Managers kept order and structure, followed processes and took a pragmatic approach to their work.
Managers who were first class in their technical ability and were the backbone of the business in both dependability and effectiveness often found themselves being promoted into more senior leadership positions and for a time this structure worked.
And then COVID happened.
Suddenly we were working remotely, disconnected from each other to a large extent and this required a completely different approach.
Suddenly the people in the organisation didn’t need managers or lists, or processes.
They needed to be held.
They needed heart.
They needed leaders who would take them into the unknown and skillfully ensure each person felt seen, heard and supported.
For two years the working world adjusted to a new way of working and it caused many of us to go through a steep period of internal growth.
We experienced what has often been described as an existential crisis on a global scale and it changed the way we work.
Those managers who already possessed great leadership qualities understood that with the introduction of hybrid and remote working, traditional management simply wasn’t going to be enough to keep the people motivated and the business thriving.
They understood that people are not things to be managed, but rather assets to be invested in and nurtured.
And these days people expect much more from their leadership teams and we predict that this is unlikely to change any time soon.
Management vs Leadership
The challenge of the changes we’ve experienced, is that great management skills don’t always translate into great leadership skills.
Many of today’s leaders are simply managers who’ve been promoted to a leadership position.
Their skillset doesn’t allow them to be effective in a leadership role and keep up with the constantly changing landscape of business today.
They can fulfill their own tasks and execute their own workload effectively, but when it comes to leading others, they often fall short.
Sometimes great managers simply aren’t great leaders, or they don’t wish to do the work to become one.
They aren’t interested in stepping outside of the management approach and learning to lead from the heart rather than to manage from the head.
But sometimes, they simply haven’t had the investment in their skillset to be able to step into their leadership role effectively.
To be a great leader in today’s world, it’s essential that managers step away from the management mindset and shift their awareness towards that of a true leader.
Not all managers are willing to do this. In fact for some, it’s too far out of their comfort zone.
We’ve seen through the great resignation, how people have reflected on their lives both in and out of work and have desired to change how they work and who they work for.
People are searching for meaning and to be seen, heard and valued as a person, not as a machine that has no emotions.
As new generations enter the workforce, management simply isn’t enough to keep people motivated.
We would even argue that whilst traditional management will always have its place in an organisation, gone are the days when managers will be as influential in the business as they used to be.
Only those with true leadership qualities will be able to capture the hearts of their teams and will be able to remain as figureheads in their organisations.
Have you seen a shift in management and leadership roles within your organisation?
How has this impacted you?
If you’re a manager or a leader looking to step into the leadership space more effectively, our leadership masterclasses can support you.
Or book a free call with us to find out whether they’re the right next step for you.