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How to re-invent management and leadership

Five steps to re-invent management and leadership

We once home swapped with some people who live in Half Moon Bay, just south of San Francisco. The small town goes by the proud title of “Pumpkin-Growing Capital of The World”, which means they must be doing good business in the run up to Hallowe’en right now. So, we ate a lot of pumpkin and wandered around their seven bedroom mansion, while they (the people we homeswapped with) were squashed into our two-bedroom flat in Chiswick, West London. We got the use of their talking Chrysler Le Baron (“Your seatbelt is still undone”). They got the use of our Nissan Micra. I think we won.

So, when Gary Hamel, whom the Wall Street journal rates as “The Number One Most Influential Business Thinker In The World” convened a big think tank in Half Moon Bay a week or two ago, I snapped to attention, as it seemed such a sleepy location for such a powerful think tank. It wasn’t just pumpkin soup on the menu (delicious, I recall) – It was the future of management (and leadership!).

I’d love to have been there, as Hamel brought together CK Prahalad, his former tutor and collaborator, Peter Senge (author of the Fifth Discipline, and pioneer of ‘the learning organization’ and systems thinking), Henry Mintzberg (the strategy guru who spoke to us at a previous Leaders in London), Ed Lawler, Chris Argyris, Jeffrey Pfeffer and other enormous management brains.

The event was called “Inventing The Future of Management”. For those of us who couldn’t be there to eavesdrop on their findings, Gary Hamel himself is coming to Leaders in London 2008 and I’m sure we can prevail on him to share some of the outcomes with us there.

The two days of debate concluded that we need to re-invent management using the following five principles:

1. Reconstruct the philosophical foundations of management

2. Orient individual and collective effort around a higher and broader purpose

3. Increase trust, reduce fear (My note: Boy, is that important right now in the turbulence facing all of us)

4. Substantially reduce the gravitational pull of the past

5. Reinvent the work of executive leadership

Powerful stuff. The gurus reported after the event, according to the FT, that “natural hierarchies require natural leaders, individuals who are able to mobilise their fellow human beings despite having no ‘positional authority’.

“A 21st century management model demands a 21st century leadership model – where leaders are no longer seen as grand visionaries, all-wise decision makers and heroic deal-makers, but are viewed instead as ‘social architects’, ‘constitution writers’ and ‘entrepreneurs of meaning’.”

I love that ‘Entrepreneurs of meaning’. Leaders make meaning. More to come from Gary Hamel when he presents his findings to us at Leaders in London 2008

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