Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Future Manager by Lynda Gratton

I think, particularly as a manager, we have to have something that’s valuable and difficult to imitate.  And the challenge with the future is that artificial intelligence and technology, in many ways, gets rid of the job of the manager.  In fact, I’ve written an article that got a lot of press called “The Death of the Middle Manager.”  And what I argued is that actually Gen Y don’t want to be managed, and if you think your job is about being the conduit for information, well, open innovation gets rid of that because everyone can talk to everybody else.  And if you think your job is about collecting information and assimilating it, giving it out again, well, artificial intelligence can do that.  If it’s not doing it now, it will in the future.  So actually, potentially, the job as a middle manager disappears.

So what then should we be doing?  The point I want to make is that the interesting research on technology shows that actually what technology does is it gets rid of a lot of the simple jobs but it also requires people conceptually to think, to imagine, to articulate, and so the marvelous thing about the future, potentially, is the manager’s job becomes more interesting because more of it either can be done by team members, or can be done by artificial intelligence, or can be done by technology.  And so I think that being good at something really is important because if you want to manage others, they have to believe that there’s something about you that they can learn from.

So management becomes as much about coaching and training as it is about supervising.  But to be a coach or a trainer, you have to know something well, and to know something well, you have to become a master of it.  And to become a master, you have to be prepared to put in the hours to learn something and to be coached and to apprentice yourself.

One of the things that worries me about our contemporary life is that shows like America’s Got Talent makes you think that everyone can be famous and it doesn’t take much to be talented.  Well, that just is not the case.  You have to work hard to actually learn something and to gain mastery.

So one of the questions I would invite people to think about is, what do I love doing?  What do I have that others don’t have?  And what am I prepared to do to get better at that?  What would it take for me to master that skill, that network, that set of ideas?  And if you can do that, then that puts you in a very, very good position for the future

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