Just over two years ago Rick Wartzman noted in a Drucker Society Europe blog the numerous initiatives in recent years based around the evidence showing that a humane and thoughtful approach to leadership and management is actually better for corporate performance than more exploitative or short-termist approaches. Appreciative Inquiry, Conscious Capitalism and Shared Value, among others, all received a mention.
Though he approved of all these developments, he struck a cautionary note:
“Does this flurry of activity add up to more than a bunch of scattered conferences and white papers? Are we actually witnessing the beginnings of a social movement?”
This raises a challenge for those of us who write about the commercial and social benefits of shared value/management shift/conscious capitalism and so on. Do we constitute a movement? Or are we just a loose connection of academics and consultants who communicate principally with one another?
We have an impressive evidence base. The weaknesses of short-termism, and the strength of the case for an alternative, were discussed by the Drucker Institute just over a year ago on this blog. I can demonstrate to the most sceptical audience that returns on investment and corporate longevity are improved by making the shift to an empowering style of leadership, where employees throughout the organization are rightly seen as the source of all value.
But I have come to the conclusion, after around 20 years of research and related work in this field, that we cannot rely on good evidence seeping into the corporate world. We have to think more deeply and act more persuasively.
Think more deeply, because it’s not enough just to condemn speculative activity, corporate short-termism and management by the bottom line; we have to understand the cultural narratives that sustain these ways of operating. And act more persuasively because, given that these practices are supported by entrenched beliefs, we have to win over hearts and minds, not just present evidence and write papers.
Rick mentioned the Global Drucker Forum. At the most recent event, held in Vienna in November 2014, I got talking to Gary Hamel and others. It was the time of the launch of my own book The Management Shift. I floated the idea of a petition and manifesto for enlightened management. I am delighted to report that Gary enthusiastically supported the idea, and promised to support and publicize it.
Since then, in consultation with other thinkers, I have drafted a Petition and Manifesto in two parts – one for employers and business schools, the other for Government (initially, the UK Government).
Of course, there isn’t likely to be a single policy change that can have a dramatic effect.
At the level of an organization, my research shows that the best management teams attend to all key aspects of management. I have distilled this into six broad dimensions, hence my ‘6 Box Leadership Model’. Three relate to people: Individuals, Relationships and Culture. Three relate to processes: Strategy, Systems and Resources. For more details, go to the website: http://www.themanagementshift.com/.
The management shift involves different mindsets and behaviours as well as strategies and policies. It follows, therefore, that a social movement for better management also involves many dimensions, and engages people and institutions emotionally as well as intellectually.
In our Manifesto for Humanizing Management, we have recommended six dimensions of reform:
- A company is better understood as a dynamic, behavioural entity than as a structure.
- Management can now move towards being more solidly evidence-based.
- The quarterly accounting statement needs supplementing with a range of quantitative and qualitative measures at least equal in priority.
- Careful selection and education of managers at every level is a priority for high-performing organizations.
- Employers that define and articulate their purpose and values, and seek to uphold them, have a greater chance of becoming high-performing and resilient.
- In high-performing organizations, innovation is understood as being the responsibility of the whole organization, not just the research & development department.
If you would like to know more about this fledgling movement, please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Do let me know your views about how we can best publicize this message and begin to effect lasting positive change.