Management Requirements and Changing Values in the Information Age

The requirements for executives have drastically changed in the last 20 years. The graying old man in a tailored suit, sitting in his office-cum-throne and pulling the strings, is long gone. Technical advancements like the internet, mobile devices, and more all require new qualifications – changes in society and an adapting employer mentality call for a change in leadership styles.

Führungsverantwortung im Wandel der Zeit

But how, exactly, have the requirements for a senior manager changed in the last several years, and more importantly, what can executives learn from this? In a recent cooperation with Managerfragen.org, on the topic of “Requirements of the Modern Executive,” we posed these questions to senior managers.

Dr. Jörg Böttcher, of the HSH Nordbank AG, and Sascha Röber of the Schön Klinik provide their perspective, and explain how management responsibilities have developed with changing times – and what particular aspects the exceptional senior managers should pay special attention to.

It started with the computer’s quick ascent to ubiquity – it’s now an integral part of most people’s everyday lives. Then, suddenly everything was somehow moved to the World Wide Web. Since then, Western society and the global working world have undergone rapid changes to their daily processes. The keywords here are speed, and tempo. The average employee is constantly reachable, and networking plays a central role, now more than ever. The management requirements have also changed and developed along the way.

Top managers Dr. Jörg Böttcher and Sascha Röber claim that two major trends are responsible for this shift: Through the increasing network of connectivity (including mobile), working processes in companies are accelerating at a rapid speed. Additionally, the increase in the use of workplace emails have enabled employees to access and discuss workplace issues from anywhere and any time.

Röber noticed something similar: “The density of communications has increased exponentially over the last few years, the breadth of tasks has increased in turn, and this demands a much higher, more intense stress resistance from employees. Restructuring measures are now a part of the daily routine of the workplace, just as much as new technologies and the options they afford. For employees to handle their professional tasks, they must first learn to cope with increased expectations.”

Another trend lies in the changing values of society. One’s career is certainly still an essential part of life, but not necessarily the most important aspect, explains Böttcher.

This change of perspective can also be ascribed to the increased focus of sabbaticals and other comparable work-life balance measures. Today’s executives must get to know the needs of their employees, and be in the position to react accordingly. Those who routinely put in overtime as a manager, without the health and the well-being to take care of their team, will have to deal with the consequences: stressed, demotivated and unproductive employees, and a tense working climate.

The internal factors for leadership on a senior level – meaning the basic rules of human interaction – haven’t changed as a result, believes Sascha Röber. “It doesn’t help the manager or the employees to always try out the newest management techniques, as they will also become outdated at some point.” Aspiring leaders require several key competencies along the way that are as essential to managers now as they were before.

These competencies are always necessary for successful managers:

1. Honesty: Tell your employees what’s going on. They’ll find out anyway. Better that they hear it from you, than through office gossip, the HR department or even the press.

2. Integrity: Reevaluate your own values system, and act accordingly. Stick to your principles and communicate them clearly. This will help you to maintain consistency in your leadership, and that makes you reliable.

3. Accountability: Spare your employees the anguish of not knowing where they stand. This’ll lower the in your office stress level, and you’ll be be known as one accountable person with a fair personality, rather than a “wild card,” unpredictable from day to day.

4. Reliability: When you’ve come to a decision, then take the proper measures to enforce it. Uncertainty and a wishy-washy attitude can damage the working environment, and the success of your business. If a decision must be changed, then change it, but explain why and how the circumstances have changed.

5. Empathy: Everyone has his own cross to bear. Including your employees. These unknown issues can influence their motivation and the ability to perform. Take time out of your busy schedule to get to know your employees and learn the names of Mrs. Smith’s daugther, and Mr. Jones’ dog, and your employees will feel more open and trusting in their working relationships with you. Sincere empathy leads to trust. And trust is the most secure foundation for a successful cooperation.

6. Leadership: The term “manager” is very common in today’s business world. But the German term, “Führungskraft,” means “Leading power,” and perhaps it’s a more accurate description: employees look up to, and expect instructions from their manager. In situations of insecurity, or when your business approaches uncharted territories, people look directly to you for leadership. Learn how to make strong decisions, even when you don’t know and aren’t sure of 100% of the details and backstory. And accept the fact that sometimes your decisions will not be the right ones.

On the portal Managerfragen.org, you can read the full answers from these senior managers. You can also see and explore other discussions they’ve participated in. We’d like to thank the contributors for their interesting perspectives and assessments!



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