I wonder what it is like for the many bosses out there to read the media every day, how incapable and overwhelmed they are and how lousy they are Lead employees. To be repeatedly smeared on bread, which elementary skills they lack for digitization and what could finally make them successful. Anyone who takes all of this to heart should almost get dizzy. Hardly a day goes by without a new study of how terrible the reality on the executive floors looks. In a difficult time of change around digitization and Industry 4.0, this not only fuels the helplessness and fears of managers themselves but also the gap between them and their employees is getting wider.
Bosses, the biggest losers in digitization?
Everyone agrees that digitization only works with good bosses. Management consultants therefore demand: Managers must become brands and stand for values. And since more and more communication takes place outside the office, the boss should be authentic across networks. After all, they can exchange ideas efficiently and transparently with instant messengers. But how stupid that many bosses are overwhelmed by digital tools and technologies. And this makes the lack of knowledge of managers the greatest obstacle in the digital transformation of the German industry. And by the way: The boss is the biggest problem with data protection in the company. Should we send all the bosses home? After all, a robot would have advantages as a boss.
The inability of the bosses has long since reached the employees, and they say it clearly: Help, my boss is a failure! Because in times of digitization and Generation Y, it should be clear to everyone that power-oriented leadership is obsolete. And because the bosses are also tired of the emotional whining of their employees, people are primarily a cost factor and not an asset. As also, after all, companies invest too little in training. In the end, some bosses hide their own incompetence and have their last sanctuary, their own office, taken away. Poor bosses!
Don’t feel like a boss?
Above all, I can understand young people who read all of this, they have no desire to be bosses. Even if they were prophesied in the lecture halls of the universities that they are perfectly trained for top management and that all doors will be open to them in times of a shortage of skilled workers. But if that’s the reality out there, then you’d better travel around the world as a freelancer with a backpack, blogging around the world as a digital nomad with a backpack, a few years of work & travel in New Zealand, or strolling through life as an entrepreneur.
I also notice that many employees who have several years of professional experience under their belts that even shy away from leadership. You don’t dare to do it. Because they feel like they haven’t learned enough and are not prepared for the role. And because they simply do not become a bogeyman and want to change fronts when they are no longer a good colleague but a stupid boss. An external view of leadership often amazes me given the skills and personality of my counterpart. “Guide? – No, thank you!” Is this an attitude that I have come across with noticeable frequency recently when it comes to concerns about professional reorientation?
The gap between bosses and employees is getting bigger and bigger
Media boss bashing is now a click guarantee. Yes, I admit that my article “5 announcements that prove that your boss is yesterday’s” also ranks first among the top posts with over 175,000 views. Such texts perfectly suit the broad mass of frustrated employees and alleged victims of their bad bosses: “Look here, colleagues, this also shows how badly our bosses do their job!”
Employees receive confirmation that their bosses are unable, overwhelmed, and helpless. Anti-attitudes towards the boss and lamenting coalitions quickly develop in the team. A dangerous culture that makes collaboration in companies increasingly difficult. Because the gap between managers and their employees is getting bigger and bigger. It becomes more difficult for bosses to keep in touch with their teams, let alone establish and expand a good relationship with the individual employees.
Many bosses today are stuck in the sandwich position between top management and their own employees. With an ever-increasing pressure to act, which is passed on unfiltered down into the organization. With increasing expectations of cost reductions and increased efficiency. The elimination of hierarchies and the associated increase in the individual management span. With the existing awareness that the previously successful management methods fail because they not only violate the values of many employees today but are simply inflexible and too lame in the VUCA world.
How do you feel like a boss, and how do you look up and down?
As an employee, how do you think your boss is feeling – and how are you doing yourself?
A new frame is already hanging, but the image of new leadership is only slowly emerging in the mind. What used to work well now leads to conflict. Employees feel they have been treated unfairly, recognition and appreciation are neglected in a short period of time. Leadership is interpreted as a cuddle course and as a weakness. All of this still happens today. Depending on the level of development of an organization, more or less intensive.
But what does it do with executives if they are only shown from above and, more recently, from below, as usual, what deficits they have and how incompetent they are? It is clear to all of us that it doesn’t work as a manager to just attend a few seminars and bring the suitcase of methods and techniques up to date. Like a machine on which the update is installed or a new chip is installed. Or is this the way of thinking that we have long since unreflectively adopted because of the noise of digitization?
Leadership is responsible togetherness
Many of the posts cited above forget that leadership is collaboration. It is too easy for an employee to scold the incompetent boss, to sit back, and hope for improvement. It’s too easy to just point your finger at others, forgetting that that finger also belongs to someone who is part of the system.
Managers are not solely responsible for ensuring that their employees are doing well. Because employees are not helpless toddlers, they are grown, people. Leadership means responsibility, but conversely, it does not mean giving up the self-responsibility of those being led.
Changing leadership and adapting it to a changing world of work requires, above all, a change in one’s own attitude as a manager – and also as a leader. An attitude as a person towards other people. Leadership is the management of good relationships. Not a scheme-F, but individually. An ongoing, intensive process that requires self-reflection, good feedback, sufficient time, and, above all, a lot of practice.
Here, bosses need the support of their employees and their own managers. They need to know what is important to the individual people in their teams. Know what your own bosses measure you by, you yourself are measured, and what goals you are pursuing. Know where the company and its culture should be developed in the next few years. And last but not least, the awareness of what is important to you as a person and in your role as boss and colleague.
Bosses are people too
Bosses are not clairvoyants and not perfect machines. Healthy leadership can only grow from active cooperation – and all sides can contribute to this. When employees allow their bosses not always to be perfect, to make mistakes, and to grow with them. When you tell your boss what is important to you, how you want to be managed, and what bothers you. When bosses not only allow all of this but actively demand it.
When employees do not recognize their managers as hostile superiors, but as an integral part of their successful team. And when bosses do not define themselves by power and status but become colleagues in their team with extended decision-making and action competence.
We are people and for many of us in our job, above all, recognition, collegiality, and the meaning of our work are important. It’s about relationships. Bosses are not cold monsters and employees are not work machines with personnel numbers. All are individuals with personal weaknesses and strengths – and emotions.
If you really want to work together well, then as the boss and also as an employee, when you next meet up, make sure that you can discover something in your counterpart that you appreciate and for what he/she may even be a little lovable.
And if you seriously want to work on a professional relationship, then speak up (and anything else that matters) too. And maybe you have other ideas of what you can do to make the cooperation in your team a little bit better?