The reality in the workplace is that for most skilled workers they no longer have a boss! The supervisory manager is officially extinct! All the facts around them indicate that this is true but the lack of an authoritative official announcement makes it hard to accept. In my consulting business I constantly hear cries from engineers that their bosses know less than they do. They complain that their bosses do not understand their workload. They complain that all the problems they escalate do not get resolved! They seem constantly surprised that their boss is not acting as a supervisor.
In my latest course “Leading up and across the business” I cover in detail why a management structure still exists, and it certainly is not to resurrect the long-extinct, supervisory manager. Skilled staff need to realise they are their own boss - they have the skills and expertise to complete their work and they understand the operational problems better than anyone else in the business – Who better therefore to solve them? Bosses are there to own the outcomes of a specific functional area of responsibility. Their role is to support, encourage and drive the right business results.
Today’s leaders are similar to the coach on a sports team. They do not play the game but they are responsible for the game plan (strategic plan), the tactics (operational plans), putting the right players in the game (hiring and developing the team members) and running up the side of field shouting encouragement and direction to win the game (leading the team to business outcomes).
Because the traditional supervisory boss has gone extinct, many businesses suffer from lack of leadership, rather than too much of it. Confused managers abdicate their role as a leader for fear of micro managing. They develop self-doubt as they reflect on how little they know about the actual work their team does, and so they stay out the way. They argue their team are empowered and trust them to do what is necessary, with no evidence that this is actually the case.
Leadership is needed at all levels! A company where leadership has gone extinct is likely to have staff who are extremely busy, extremely disorganised, having no operational discipline, and no doubt producing few actual outputs that can drive up company profits or increase customer satisfaction.