7 theories for a modern understanding of leadership not only for HR

leadership development management consulting

The world of work is becoming increasingly complex. There are theories and methods like sand on the sea, buzz words still and necessary: VUCA, agile mindset, employee engagement, ambidextrie…

The wealth of information and innovations can easily overwhelm you. Executives in particular are faced with the decision: Close your eyes and wait or jump on every new horse to have a say? As is so often the case, it is probably the middle ground that makes sense. But even that certainly needs to be overcome here and there if you look at the status quo of leadership in US.

The human resources department is responsible here for acting as a role model and compass and offering new concepts and perspectives. But what about the understanding of leadership in HR? What are the topics that should move all areas and what does HR have to do with them?

1. Modern leadership does not see communication as an end in itself.

We communicate more than ever before. Also within the world of work: mostly indirectly via mail, less often directly via real conversations. The virtual conversational paths make it tempting to remain constantly in the communication flow and to convey the feeling of always being reachable. But in all this jumble of communication, is anything relevant actually shared or is it just a hot potato?

However, many managers have still not become really warm with empathetic and goal-oriented communication. Withholding information is still regarded as an instrument of power. Meanwhile, the chances of being successful with a restrictive and selective communication policy are dwindling. In order to be successful as a leader in the future, you need not only an honest and empathetic interest in your own team, but also in the entire organization. HR must build up trust among managers in order to be able to advise them in their communication and, if necessary, take countermeasures.

2. HR must build a lead through empathy to win against technology.

Despite digitalization, the human competence of empathetic conversation will certainly remain a unique selling point of the human species for some time to come.

But if you as HR or manager don’t really want to act empathetically, but just want to be the administrator, then you will soon face a problem. Artificial intelligence is now so advanced that it can also make you believe that it cares about the individual.

Already the first chatbot of 1970, called ELIZA, fascinated its users and made them believe that the algorithm has something human and trustworthy about it. Secrets and personal thoughts were shared by test persons without need because the computer could fake empathy for a short time. People simply like to be easily hoodwinked when they receive undivided attention.

Perhaps an artificial intelligence projected into a hologram figure will be able to give each individual employee more in the future than a human resources person or a manager can. Could well be possible if we don’t take countermeasures now and question our actions.

3. It doesn’t work without a network. Especially not in HR.

The labor market in US is also becoming increasingly dynamic. The shortage of skilled workers has been an issue for years. Where do the talents come from? Certainly no longer from baskets with paper applications, everyone agrees on that.

If you are still successful at all with digital and analogue job advertisements, you will meet enlightened applicants who have already informed themselves about the company on various platforms. It’s stupid if the candidate doesn’t find anything about the people with whom he communicates diligently. HRs and managers thus put themselves on their feet if they elude social or professional networks.

It is even sillier when no applicants appear in the first place. What to do? If you have built up a large network in social media, perhaps just one posting is enough to draw the attention of potential applicants to the vacancy to be filled.

If the employees are so sworn in that they even serve as multipliers, you have a relevant reach where conventional job exchanges can pack. Why shouldn’t a candidate want to apply to a company where employees want new colleagues for themselves? It’s not really possible to feel more welcome. No employer brand campaign can do that.

It is exciting that despite these circumstances, many managers and HR employees are not present at all in professional networks – or if they are, then only with shadow profiles on which nothing has happened for 3 years.

4. No fear of mentoring.

Young managers benefit from experienced managers and vice versa. Every manager should deal with a mentoring or reverse mentoring approach. Do you only want to sit on your own knowledge and continue to roll your eyes secretly when the young colleague from the neighboring team unpacks a new concept? Or would you rather not know why he/she participates so energetically in discussions? Couldn’t one even learn something from new impulses as a seasoned executive? YES, you can.

An exchange also in the form of mentoring is incredibly valuable for both sides. Experienced managers are not likely to lose track of anything, they have often endured a lot and been through a lot. They have got to know different types of people in working life and usually remain calm even in heated times. They understand internal politics in their sleep and they know exactly who to call and when in order to assert their interests. Young managers cannot yet have built up this experience. But they can introduce new approaches and perspectives that can also inspire seasoned managers to new ways of thinking. Together this makes you almost unbeatable.

5. Collaboration and innovation are essential.

If a manager is not able to promote cooperation and collaboration, then he or she has no right to the future. Sounds hard, but the “problem” of a lack of willingness to cooperate and collaborate will regulate the work of the future on its own. Innovation cycles are becoming shorter and shorter. Talents are no longer sought only locally, but also internationally.

Especially in HR, the innovation cycles are much too long compared to other departments. A milestone plan over 3 years for the introduction of a new software is no longer possible due to the fast pace of technologies. If you don’t know how to swear your team and your colleagues to innovations and to give yourself a decision back here and there, you will have a hard time in the future.

6. Eye level must not be a phrase.

A team that is sworn in even in difficult times, that stands behind the projects and that its colleagues envy. How do you manage that?

It is essential to protect yourself from the team in the right moments, but also to involve it in difficult moments. Involving the team also means making oneself approachable and sharing failures and impasses.

If information is purposefully shared and discussed, this strengthens the perception of the individual. It puts one’s own job in perspective and makes it possible to experience new perspectives and also to build understanding for the organisation. This often leads to a higher level of identification with the company and also with one’s own manager. Trust is not a one-way street.

7. Working can be fun, but is not an endless party.

The aspect of self-realization has taken on an extraordinary significance in our society. Nevertheless, it is not clear to many: where there is passion and passion, there are also deprivations and crises of meaning not far away. Experienced managers in particular can score here with a certain calmness and encourage others to keep things going.

And if there is only a short distance to overcome without success, then you should take advantage of that and treat yourself to some nice moments as a team. Celebrating success is important, not to lose sight of yourself in stress, even more important.

Published by Dave John

Decade of work experience in leadership consulting with strong focus on talent acquisition & assessment across different industries and geographies.

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