Leadership, Not Middle Management

In the Jan-Feb 2011 issue of Harvard Business Review, Lynda Gratton wrote a column in which she stated “the classic job of the middle manager will soon disappear” now that “technology itself has become the great general manager.”

imageThe article goes on to discuss her research on the technology revolution and how it is creating seismic shifts in social informatics, changing the ways that people work. As HBR points out, “her research shows that younger workers value a highly skilled “master” who is capable of mentoring instead of “someone who simply keeps track of what they do.” ”

While I do not agree with this position as a blanket statement across all roles and job functions, I think it does apply to most white collar, information worker functions. People want leadership and guidance, not micro-management. How many of us have been in roles where we do our own jobs, as well as that of our managers – where their only function seems to be PowerPoint status reports of our own work product? While there is most definitely a need for reporting and analysis and decision-making, Gratton’s point is that the capability of technology to provide transparency to our work is outpacing the value of middle managers.

We need more leaders: people with conviction and values, who speak their minds, and both say what they are going to do – and do what they say.

I’m just saying…

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and M365 Apps & Services MVP, and an award-winning product marketer and technology evangelist, based in Silicon Slopes (Lehi), Utah. He is the Director of North American Partner Management for leading ISV Rencore (https://rencore.com/), leads content strategy for TekkiGurus, and is an advisor for both revealit.TV and WellnessWits. He hosts the monthly #CollabTalk TweetJam, the weekly #CollabTalk Podcast, and the Microsoft 365 Ask-Me-Anything (#M365AMA) series.

2 Responses

  1. I could rant on this topic for quite some time, as well.
    You know, I told my VP of Sales about one of my favorite books on this topic — First, Break All The Rules by Marcus Buckingham — and he went out and bought it for all of his direct reports. If you have not read this, stop what you’re doing and go grab a copy. One of the best concepts ever is managing people to their strengths. I thumb my nose at the idea of “well-rounded” employees. Give me a team of odd-balls who are rock-stars at their core functions any day. As a manager, I’d keep things flowing, but mostly just get out of the way…

  2. Toby Getsch says:

    “We need more leaders: people with conviction and values, who speak their minds, and both say what they are going to do – and do what they say.”
    …leaders who are world class listeners
    …leaders who also know when to not say or not do
    …leaders who know how to get out of the way
    This is one of my favorite topics.