Here are some of the key milestones:
- In the late 1800s there were very few large “business” enterprises or organizations - the railroads and the US Army were two of the largest.
- By the early 1900s, the manufacturing process was in full swing - Fredrick Taylor devised the scientific method approach to make the process driven business more efficient.
- WWI and WWII drove the emphasis on efficiency and large scale organizations, generally focused on skilled labor.
- IBM, GE and the automobile industry emerged with large organizations in the early part of the 1900s, generally employing the “command and control” model of management.
- Peter Drucker effectively wrote the first volume on modern management in 1954.
- The GI Bill sent many to college after WWII, resulting in a boom in MBA's in the 1960s and after (noting that the command and control model of management still ruled the day).
- Globalization of corporations happened in the latter part of the 1900s - they no longer were large national companies, but large international/global companies.
- The internet became a reality in the 1990s as did the proliferation of computers.
- Automation of manufacturing and the increase in education of the work force shifted manufacturing overseas (where labor was cheap) and gave rise to today's “knowledge worker.”
In a workforce dominated by skilled labor, the most knowledgeable “plumber” becomes the leader in the plumbing shop. It's a matter of efficiency since the skill can be learned by others relatively easily.
In a knowledge-based work force, the leader of the shop may not necessarily know how to do the knowledge workers' job. The “boss” has to rely on the employees to know what they are doing to meet goals.
So, the management needed to evolve with the evolving work force. Under the skilled labor model, command and control (and the “fear of getting fired”) may have worked since a replacement could be found rather quickly. With the knowledge worker model, the demand for capable workers is high. Command and control no longer works. Innovation and creativity is now in the minds of the knowledge workers. Command and control must give way to effective leadership, focusing on effectiveness of the knowledge worker. And, effective leadership is a matter of behaving in a way that creates a positive work environment and maintains a positive attitude for the work force.
For leaders, it is critical to learn leadership approaches, styles, and behaviors and when to employ them. The success of your company depends on it.
Tim Parker is a Business Consultant focusing on Executives and Leadership. He is President of Parker Resource Management, LLC in Raleigh, NC.
"What do you want to be remembered for?" - Peter Drucker