We urgently need leaders of the future, but not necessarily new people. These new managers should focus on the development and expression of the competencies of the workers that make up the organisations. These people are already in the companies, but they are often "hidden" behind management systems that do not give space or time to prioritize the vectors and the most appropriate activities.

We have lived through a troubled period for two years, with two confinements, in which the daily routines of the working world were completely disrupted. We are talking especially about team moments, such as lunches in the cafeteria or face-to-face meetings. At that time, we were left "alone" with our work, closed at home. Adding to these challenging conditions, in many cases, there was a crisis of purpose, because many of us found it difficult to stay in the same job just for the tasks.

At a time when job satisfaction levels have plummeted, companies have found themselves struggling with problems of motivation and employee retention, as well as difficulties in attracting new talent.

What to do in a situation like this? In my opinion, it is necessary to invest in leaders and leaderships who know how to motivate and create a sense of "value" in employees, even if they manage from a distance. To do so, it is necessary to be very clear about the difference between leader and manager, because the two words may refer to the same function, but they have completely different meanings. When we talk about management, there is a tendency to focus on objectives, metrics, KPIs and performance, very much in a Present logic. But if we refer to the word leadership, it presupposes planning, potential, change and a medium-long term focus.

It also implies talking about a management that goes beyond the distance of a touch, which means delegating and trusting. The boss must know when the employees are working, without having to control their every move, know how to lean on the team to find the solution, listen, discuss, negotiate and know "their people", knowing what is unique in each employee, knowing their potential and aspirations and, above all, putting more humanityinto management.

You may wonder how a leader can achieve this level of trust. Through something that sounds very simple, but is actually extremely challenging in the workplace: showing vulnerability and exchanging experiences with the team.

This would be the role of the ideal leader, which already exists in some organisations, but surely this is not the profile most commonly found in management. In most companies, I would say that we currently live and act in a constant "emergency" state, with tight deadlines, and with "managers" who overvalue the present, instead of betting on the future. This implies that, frequently, they end up rewarding processes that are harmful for the workers, because they achieve short-term results, but which, over time, result in burnout, a drop in confidence and motivation levels, apathy and the dismantling of teams.

There are many managers (probably even most) who would like to make this transition, but feel they "don't have the time to do it" or "bosses that would allow it", because there is a huge confusion between processes and results. But just by expressing that willingness to change, it means they are open to trying new processes. And often all it takes is creating a culture of sharing, based on frequent conversations and feedback on performance, to begin to see a significant change in managers.

This may be the right time for a transition in the leadership of organisations, so that there is room for new and better leaders. At Nova School of Business & Economics, we have built a Executive Masters in Leadership.This programme, of which I am Academic Coordinator, together with my colleague Pedro Neves, aims to shake up myths and ideas around the role of the leader, to clarify and dismantle the difference between leading and managing. In this programme for executives, we propose to talk about people management, not necessarily about human resource management practices, because it should be the people in charge who are with their teams on a daily basis who can identify and manage talent, motivation, performance and culture.


This text is a republication of an article published in Executive Digest - read the original here.

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