This article by Richard Goff, Partner at Archipelago connections looks at the changing nature of leadership in the workplace and explores facilitating as a new model of leadership.
At a recent @futureofworkhub event, futurist Dean van Leeuwen talked about Kaggle, the website where coders around the world can bid for pieces of work. Increasingly, organisations will employ people along Kaggle principles: more and more specialists will do more and more of the work of organisations, and be less and less directly employed.
What will that mean for leaders? How do you lead people you'll never meet, who may only work for you for a few months, and who may have no conception of your organisation's heritage and culture - or feel its values at a distance of 2,000 miles, and how they work in practice?
Perhaps with such a diffuse workforce, your influencing skills will develop different emphases. Perhaps even office politics will diminish just as literally as office space will. And perhaps you won't be leading at all, not in the sense we understand it now, but instead you'll be doing something far less dramatic, but far more effective: facilitating. Are we about to see a new model of leadership that is simpler, and yet more difficult?
Facilitating an ongoing, relevant and engaged conversation with talent dispersed around the world chosen or attracted to work on the organisation’s current project. They might never meet; they might never have passed the audition; but somehow you as a leader have to bring that talent back to the purpose of your organisation, articulate and live its values, and above all make their work as easy as possible so they can achieve as much as possible.
Facilis, Latin for ‘easy’, is of course is the root of ‘facilitator’ - a mildly unfashionable word which doesn’t sound glamorous, or strategic, or commanding. And yet making things easy for teams to achieve what they’re paid to achieve is a distinct and difficult skill; it requires serious reserves of evidence-based judgement, emotional intelligence, focus, and energy. For many of us, it’s a mindset change. How do you make other people successful first, so they can make you successful?
Above all while it reflects a process, or at least ease of progress, it’s also pointed at output (which not all leaders are by any means): nobody facilitates for its own sake. We ‘facilitate’ with an end in mind. But we might ‘lead’ because we like being at the head of the queue.
And to emphasise the inestimable value of facilitation: anyone here ever worked for a leader who made things difficult for you?
By Richard Goff, Partner, Archipelago connections, is Chair of The People Director Partnership (https://www.peopledirector.org) and an ambassador for the REC’s Good Recruitment Campaign. @HRLeadersnow
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