LTT Business Bulletin - July 2015
More from LTT
Paul Bridle, Leadership Methodologist and renowned international
speaker, explains why “Leadership keeps Shifting”
The gap between Leading and Managing is now as broad as it has ever been. The drive to reduce costs whilst at the same time improve performance, has never been greater in our known history of business.
Fredrick Winslow Taylor, who is known as the ‘Father of the Scientific Management and Efficiency Movement’, was described by Peter Drucker as “the first man in recorded history who deemed work deserving of systematic observation and study”. His methods of enforced standardization of methods, enforced adoption of best implements, and enforced co-operation, would produce faster and consistent work. He also believe that enforcing this was the responsibility of management alone!
There is no doubt that the savings he made were significant and stunning to the world at that time. The cost of overhauling boilers dropped from $62 to $11, machining a tire could be done in a fifth of the time, at a paper mill the material costs dropped from $75 to $35 per ton whilst labour costs dropped from $30 to $8 a ton, and at a pig iron plant he raised worker output from 12.5 to 47 tons of steel a day whilst reducing the number of workers from 600 to 140.
This approach also reduced people to an extension of the machines they used. Taylor told a congressional committee, “that the science of handling pig iron is so great that the man who is … physically able to handle pig-iron and is sufficiently phlegmatic and stupid to choose this for his occupation is rarely able to comprehend the science of handling pig-iron”
It is not surprising that the International Standardization Organization was formed in the early 1900 as a way to give organizations a framework that they can use and be recognised as having systems and controls in place that ensure the quality of service or product. This helped with being able to ‘manage’ but it did little to assist the role of ‘leader’. In some ways not surprising, because trying to systemise people is not as easy as systemising a processes.
Add to this that technology has moved the world forward in leaps and bounds in the recent years, it is becoming increasingly hard to develop systems and processes and structures at a time when innovation, flexibility, re-invention and adaptability is paramount. How many businesses have a ten year business plan now? It is now more likely to be a broad strategic direction with a one or two year plan!
Historically most organizations focused on having good managers in place with a semblance of leadership ability. However, as the skills and requirements of a leader become more the opposite of the role of the manager, it becomes more of a specialism and less of an ‘add on’ skill or ability.
To cope with this new definitions needs to be understood. ‘Taking the lead’, ‘being a leader’ and ‘having leadership’ are all of them are different and all are important to the success of organizations.
A person may be able to take the lead in a situation due to specific skills , knowledge or understanding that person has in these circumstances. Others may have a leadership role to accomplish a given task or overcome a specific issue. Being a leader will be the one that emerges as the most important attribute. This is about who the person is and their ability to ensure that the right people take the lead at the right times and that the leadership roles move around to suit the needs of the organization as it progresses.
Are we seeing the dawning of ‘Scientific Leadership’? This may be the biggest shift in organizational thinking since Fredrick Winslow Taylor’s ‘Scientific Management’ approach.
For over a quarter of a century, Paul has researched effective organisations and the people that lead them. He studies trends in business and identifies what makes successful organisations and the ways business will operate in the future. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org