Traditional management is no longer relevant. Wait … Wait! I can hear the outraged cries of disbelief. This is not a semantics lesson, but I didn’t say that management will never be meaningful ever again. I am suggesting that ‘traditional’ management practices are hopelessly outdated. New age management should ONLY be called Leadership … and you better REALLY mean it if you want to actually hire and develop true leaders at your company. Otherwise, your workforce will do as little as possible to keep their jobs and hold your company back from achieving greatness.

Management, the old way, was all about instilling fear, using coercion, demanding compliance and worst of all disrespecting the non-management staff. Unfortunately, even mid and lower level managers were (and still are) often dehumanized. Let’s be fair here … there have always been exceptional company leaders (there’s that word), even one hundred years ago, who defied the text books and common practices of the day … and treated their employees like treasured living assets. The results were … and are … magical.

Most people’s DNA seems to be programmed to ‘need’ to follow the herd. Then kids are taught to follow the rules and listen to authority figures, at home, at school and almost everywhere else. I know they (kids) often don’t listen and many do all they can to disobey, but that is not the point. The key point is that humans are typically creatures of habit … and that leads to adults who follow the same behavior patterns they learned as kids.

This means most employees are conditioned to listen to authority at work. And that ‘preset’ behavior is the primary reason old-school management was based on managers ‘bossing’ the rank-and-file around. The problem is our society has evolved from one where people absolutely had to ‘know their place’, or else be fired for no meaningful reason at all. There were no laws about workers’ rights and no safety net to allow them to lounge at home on unemployment or welfare.

It takes a long time for habits to change … and in this case, that meant, even after there was a safety net and labor laws, the majority of the working generation put up with the same bad management ‘bullying’ they had to endure throughout their careers. Now, the pendulum has swung so far to the opposite extreme … and all companies have to struggle with a workforce expecting entitlement and politically correct nonsense.

Let me clear the air here before I receive a thousand outraged comments. I am … and always have been … a kind, considerate and ethical person. I never have taken advantage of people working with me, no matter what position they worked. I believe in creating a working and personal environment of mutual respect and trust. I don’t like confrontation and believe in fairness, consistency and open communication.

My problem is the current workforce (clearly not everyone) is filled with people who resent having to do their jobs … and use any excuse to file grievances or lawsuits, because they feel their ‘rights’ have been violated. One other note, I have personally never had any claims or labor-related suits filed or threatened … but while consulting … and even reading or watching the news, have seen a ridiculous number or frivolous actions against client companies.

The best way to avoid becoming an ‘also-ran’ company … which can lead to lower profits, diminishing market-share and even serious financial challenges is to take action. The right action is to transition from an old-style, centralized, top-down stodgy complacent company and integrate a true leadership culture. A key part of any leader based organization is embracing a decentralized, proactive team-centric philosophy that empowers and rewards staff.