Since any opinion can be published on the Internet, we have to face a confusing flood of views. In this jungle of standpoints, we have to develop our own identity. It is like deciding on your clothing style. Whereas in the past general fashion waves offered only a few alternatives, nowadays many styles make their waves. Self-consciousness is formed that cannot simply be assigned to the established groups – e.g. left-right, progressive or reactionary, (un)dogmatic, (un)human.
Joining a school of thought takes place in widely varying contexts. Each time it results in the adoption of another thinking – again and again. Role conflicts are thus inevitable. The way out is the convinced decision for a coherent attitude. The following steps offer a course in this direction.
- You have to deal with the content
A look at the current fashion trend is no longer possible due to the flood of offers. Even if the long-established fashion corporations stick to the annual shows, buyers are increasingly following new labels outside the mainstream. Influencers sift additionally through the offerings and make their subjective comments for others. The catwalk of business identities also follows this pattern. On the one hand, symposia and trade shows offer news regarding Business Models, IT, or Business Engineering. However, it is necessary to increasingly consider new topics, such as New Work, Diversity, Industry 4.0, and still, Globalization, to evaluate the hard factors of rigid structural and procedural organizations and the concreted system landscape from a different perspective.
- You need your value system
In addition to one’s physique, the self-image and internal value system play a role in the choice of clothing. These beliefs have a mainly subconscious effect on the choice of look. Countless media provide ideas for any trend. This also applies to everyday professional life. Filter bubbles have emerged for every task, repackaging the same solutions over and over again. Consulting firms provide a coherent rationale for particular topics that are eventually adopted by the fields. Formulating one’s value system helps in choosing a solution.
- You decide in any case
At the end of the day, it is the available wardrobe that defines what fashion you wear. You have two more or less conscious decision points: 1) the arrangement of the closet and 2) the spontaneous choice of the moment. The situation is similar for business opportunities. The groups that are prepared have an advantage, as only the options can be used that are available – the more diverse, the better prepared you are for the particular choice. Actively or passively – in any case, you decide.
- You need to let go what you love
Every closet is limited. Thus, from time to time, you need to clean out to make room for something new. It is tough to part with the old clothes you cherish, even though they are often not in the best condition. The same is valid with building blocks of business. Over the years, a company builds up technical and organizational legacies that burden the workforce and the budget more than they help. Unfortunately, when new solutions are introduced, the responsible people forget to dismantle the old ones. This leads to organizational clogging that significantly reduces performance.
- You must live your decision
Whatever you decide, wear your outfit with the respective confidence. You have learned about the alternatives, developed your criteria for selection, made a conscious decision – as good as it gets. In business, there are processes that make this examination of yourself possible: strategy, planning of all kinds, and formalized decision-making processes. Once decisions are taken, you should always be backed up by appropriate mentioning and appreciation so that everyone involved understands what is valid.
Bottom line: Identity is an essential element for workforce cohesion. Therefore, a framework that promotes a sense of belonging should be proactively created. To be able to decide, you consider the options based on your criteria and decide. To achieve the desired effect, you must let go of the cherished habits and foster the new approaches confidently and openly. Since the clothing style concerns similar aspects, it is the ideal metaphor for identity.
There was a time when employees were cogs in a big machine. They had a fixed position in the clockwork company, which could be assumed without much preparation. Over time, one got to know the environment, broadened its knowledge, and to eventually rise to a responsible position with a better understanding of the big picture.
In the meantime, these machines have evolved into organisms that no longer consist of wheels and axles rigidly attached to one place, but of units that continuously adapt to changing customer needs, the constant worldwide coming and going of competitors and new technologies (e.g. digitalization and automation).
In this environment, managers need new skills. They are no longer mechanics, who monitor and readjust employees. Carrot and stick are replaced by purpose and personal perspective – no longer either … or, but as well … as. It enables employees to realize their potential and at the same time create added value for the company. Let’s look at some changes.
- Assign tasks instead of passing them over
Up to now, tasks, competence and responsibility have been delegated from managers to employees. These transfers implied the giving of something that a leader does, has or must fulfill. This resulted in managers hiring more and more of the same, especially what they know, which did not expand the group’s capabilities.
However, it is no longer a matter of gathering a flock of like-minded people with identical skills, but rather of building know-how as far as possible that creates many different opportunities. The old tasks of managers are dissolving in favor of the nowadays necessary support – harmonizing instead of isolating; long-term instead of short-term; situation-related instead of bureaucratic; serving instead of controlling; open instead of orderly; effective instead of efficient; confident instead of fearful; securing instead of unsettling …
- Y instead of X
The two human images by McGregor have been haunting companies for decades: Theory X assumes that people are lazy by nature and need to be motivated from the outside; theory Y assumes that employees are intrinsically ambitious and committed and motivate themselves. Both theories lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy. If the respective human image is confirmed, then it solidifies and leads to more of the same. In theory X, poor performance confirms the negative human image that leads to more stringent control. In theory Y, the positive image is solidified that leads to more and more freedom, which is willingly filled by the employees.
The adherents of theory X will continue to fail, as they demotivate their people to such an extent that potential is nipped in the bud. The bosses of theory Y are better positioned. So long as they keep control on themselves and resist any impulse to intervene, this group is continuously approaching the possible.
- Decide instead of overstretching
The commercial necessities arise detached from each other. There is no natural order or other indications for prioritization. The managers have no choice but to prioritize the tasks and live with the fact that some cannot be fulfilled. The only backdoor is to use people, who lack the appropriate skills, but who are currently available. This results in follow-up work and conflicts that must be dealt with despite the insufficient capacities. This creates even more superfluous tasks.
The ability to make the best use of the resources includes the dexterity not to overload your available resources by refusing from the start too much workload and saying clearly No. The aim is not to deliver half-assed but agreed results.
- Let go instead of micromanaging
A difficulty that is also shown by the X theory managers is the inner compulsion to micromanage. Micromanagers distribute tasks, monitor progress at short intervals and continually correct the activities of employees. With the appropriate IT-network, it is nowadays possible to ask for the progress by e-mail at any time or even check the half-finished intermediate statuses on the shared drives. The consequences are long e-mails with correction requests. They undermine the employees’ schedule and limits their room for maneuver. In the short- to mid-term, employees will stop their work enthusiasm and only fulfill the instructions of their superiors. The responsibility for the result is no longer with the employee, but with the micromanager.
This is certainly the most common form of incompetence in leadership. In doing so, the manager harms itself, the customer and the employee.
Bottom line: In VUCA times, the market, customers and tasks move faster than they can be controlled with traditional methods. The country needs new leaders: leaders who hire people, who can do more than they can do themselves; proponents of Theory Y, who trust their employees; bosses, who know that the sum of the total is more than them; but above all, leaders who DO NOT micromanage. The right attitude supports the ambition of the employees and demands self-organized top performance. Capable managers know how to use their resources.