Education for managers 2.0
The role of manager of an organization is threefold: expert, manager, and leader. The balance of the individual components varies in different positions and companies, but all of them are always represented to some extent.
If we could separate these roles from each other, then we can say that the expert focuses on technologies, procedures, and methods. The manager works with processes and structures. The leader’s job is to work with people. Each of these areas requires both talent and knowledge of the “craft”.
Exponentially, there is a growing amount of new information in each field. Therefore, the role of an expert requires even closer specialization. For individuals, it is now virtually impossible to completely cover any field. Therefore, the importance of an organization’s ability to create a sort of “collective expert”, i.e. the ability to link individual professionals to a broad synergistic collaborative network, is increasing.
This is a completely new task for the leader. While leaders of the past concentrated primarily on individuals, today, the importance of working within the social system is increasing. The human is extremely complex, but the social system is even more complicated.
The environment around us differs significantly from the environment where our parents and grandparents worked. It is much more dynamic, more variable, and the future is very difficult to predict there. It requires great ability to respond to changes, before they occur, if possible. It requires flexibility, resilience, and faith in a target.
This, of course, brings deep changes in the requirements of a successful leader. Competencies such as the ability of critical thinking, context thinking, authenticity, communication skills, ability to manage chaos, and psychological resilience become important. It transpires that these are attitudes and internal settings rather than skills.
New requirements for the leader role have led to the emergence of a number of directions such as the Servant Leader (Greenleaf), Authentic Leadership (Avolio), VUCA Leadership and Transformational Leadership (McGregor Burns, Bass) concepts in recent decades.
So there is a question about how to develop the leader’s required properties. Obviously, categories such as self-esteem, authenticity, or critical thinking cannot be learned in a course or in a textbook. Useful attitudes cannot be taught, one must mature them.
So how? It may be a surprise that the answer to this “modern” question can be found in the work of J. A. Komenský. His School by Play (Škola†hrou†) is built on learning through experience, which is the basis of modern pedagogy and andragogy directions.
In the later consequences, the harmful influence of the Terezian school reforms, based on drill and discipline, has survived to this day. Not only in schools, but also in a number of companies, there is still the belief that the carrot and stick policy, the marks one and scowler emoticons in the pupil’s record book, bonuses and critical letters are the best pedagogical tools.
Against this, there is a modern school built on internal motivation, experience, project learning, development of social competences and critical thinking, educating to self-confident, motivated, and responsible children. To a large extent, this is a coaching approach where we work with targets and support when finding a way how to achieve it.
That this works better is “mended with wire” in our brains. Confidence in what we discover ourselves is a part of our genetic equipment. We learn through experience and enjoyment. When learning, adopting a procedure is more valuable than obtaining information. In today’s world, information is very transient, but the ways leading to it are the same.