The Herman Trend Alert|
April 3, 2002
Collaborative and Coordinative Skills
As we rush at a rapid rate into the 21st century, we must be sensitive to the changes happening around us. There are subtle changes in the way people work together. Success in the future will depend on the development of new skills to adjust to new environments in business, government, and education.
We are moving away from the traditional relationships involving a boss who told people what to do and subordinates who almost blindly followed the directives of their superiors. The emerging model is considerably more collaborative. Workers at all levels concentrate more on cooperating with each other than on giving orders for others to do things. The hierarchy in the work organization, honored since Max Weber introduced bureaucracy, is dissolving and will all but disappear within ten years. The lines of authority will blur as people work in self- developed teams, almost oblivious to management structures.
Teamwork is prevalent in business today, but is relatively structured. Team membership is often dictated by management, practically forcing people to work together, whether they want to or not. As we move through the decade, formalized teamwork will be replaced by a new style of collaboration. In this approach, people will work with others because they want to. Workers will form their own teams-a bottom-up approach, as opposed to the customary top-down designs. Many university students are being prepared for this emerging style through project work groups to complete class work. Some professors are wisely giving their students valuable experience in working together.
New skills will be needed for success in these changing environments. Negotiation and persuasion skills will be valuable, as will ability to coordinate, network, and connect. Most managers do not have these skills yet. Some managers will actually resist learning and using such skills, preferring to adhere to the directive model. These managers will become relics of a bygone age as the years pass.
One effective way for managers to acquire these leadership skills is by working in volunteer organizations. When people do not have to do what bosses require, the bosses will learn new ways of leading.
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