Monday, March 12, 2007

Inversion Management - 21st Century Leadership

Using the term "Management" in the title of this blog, reflects part of the problem with the dominant logic of mainstream business.

I've been with TV Network for just over a year now, and its been exciting, frustrating, inspiring, draining, hard work and fun!

Establishing an agile project, running an agile programme, creating an agile department, evolving an agile company... each level requires new skills, different perspectives, perseverance and openness to change.

Your perspectives change, you change...

I believe the most successful business leaders today are shifting through an Inversion of Leadership.

The inherited perception and mindset of management, is one of hierarchy, command & control, transactional leadership, management by exception, reward & recognition, sequential projects and long-term strategic planning.

Agile leaders believe in flat structures for real-time communication, encourage delegation and de-centralisation of control, exude transformational leadership, are naturally inclusive decision makers, care about Corporate Social Responsibility, adopt iterative processes, create vision, define objectives and are continuous change agents.

Agile leaders exist as a minority not only in software development, but in all industries.

The mainstream, pervading approach to "management" is based on reward and recognition, direction and control.
The emerging approach, for successful companies, will be leadership and vision, delegation and inspiration, training and mentoring, support and coaching.

From my experience it is much harder to be a leader, coach, delegate and mentor when there are deadlines, profit/loss and long hours to deal with... but at the same time you can achieve a hell of a lot more.

Do I think Inversion Management will replace mainstream practices?
Will agile leaders be wanted across business?

Not until the current mindset of shareholders, the stock market and banking institutions of looking at quarterly profit margins, and quick revenues, shifts to being concerned about sustainable business, sustainable wealth, and the ability of companies to change and innovate.


michael said...

Other than the title, I can't recall what prompted me to give you a run in my feedreader (it was some time ago). This post is solid evidence it was a good idea though. Good stuff!

Shawn B said...

Hi Steve,

Sounds like you are extremely busy at the moment...I hope things are going well with you...

Whilst I think I agree with your opinions, there is also a question (well in my mind, if nowhere else) as to whether those being managed are ready and willing to accept leadership and vision, delegation and inspiration, training and mentoring, support and coaching, as these require more participation from their side...

And whilst we’d all like to believe that these skills can be taught, it is a very rare manager who does/would be able to embody all of the above – very rare indeed!

Where do you see the change coming from ?

Shawn B

Steve Garnett said...

Hi Shawn,
:) - Both your points have brought a smile to my face. As with all things agile, the easy bit is understanding it, the hard bit is doing it.

For those being managed, you're right; mindsets, previous experience and company culture can be barriers to accepting & trusting leadership & vision.

We found this at CPM, but I believe some of them did change over time! We opened horizons, and changed perceptions. But it takes alot of time and effort. In fact at times its exhausting.

As for these management skills being teachable, I think they are over the long term through activities such as mentoring, NLP, leadership training and coaching. But try getting budget for these activities in today's climate... and that is basically my point.

Until these newer ideas and approaches hit the mainstream, and the sustainability of companies is at the forefront of shareholders, Inversion Management or Agile Leadership is likely to remain a "rare" and untapped commodity.

Steve Garnett said...

To Michael,
Thanks for your comments, its nice to know these thoughts are appreciated.