Everybody's a Leader, Everybody's a Star

The new age of work calls for new employee skills. Self-management, peer leadership and team skills are among the most important ones.

Digitalization has unlocked two mighty powers: automation and information. Any work that can be automated will be automated. Many professions disappear while new ones emerge.

Traditional bosses, or “managers of doing”, are being replaced by self-management.

Creative jobs cannot be automated. They consist mostly of brainwork and cannot be defined through routines and formula. Thanks to digitalization, creative professionals nowadays have access to relevant data and information concerning their own work exactly when they need it.

Self-Management Empowers and Motivates

Creative professionals are notoriously difficult to manage. You cannot command and control work that happens inside someone’s head. Creative work requires a working culture where people are able to manage themselves and lead each other.

A person that has both the skills and the information needed for the job is able to make autonomously the decisions concerning the work, as well as control the work performance. Traditional bosses, or “managers of doing”, are being replaced by self-management. A job with a self-management responsibility is demanding but also empowering and motivating.

Creative work requires typically a lot of collaboration. Such collaboration is best organized as teamwork. A group of people becomes a team when they share a common purpose and target, are able to work together without a manager, and are capable of adjusting their roles and responsibilities dynamically as the situation calls for it.

Peer Leadership Is Based on Trust

In a team, peer leadership complements self-management. Any team member may take a leader’s position when his or her leadership characteristics benefit the team most. Any team member is capable of supporting their colleagues in problem solving and personal growth. This is the very reason why coaching has become so popular in successful organizations.

Peer leadership is not based on organizational position. It is a skill that successful professionals have but also a permission that colleagues give to each other. Peer leadership requires personal trust. Therefore it is slow to scale. This may be one reason why it is popular to organize work in an autonomous team structure.

Productive Ad Hoc Teams Create an Edge

Teams often have a long life span but modern organizations also set up ad hoc teams for short-term needs. Quite often teams also cross the organizational and geographical boundaries. An organization that is capable of rapidly setting up productive teams has, obviously, a substantial advantage over slower organizations.

People whose main job is to manage are there to create purpose and direction. They manage conditions, change, and growth of people while people and teams manage objectives and tasks by themselves.

Any work that can be automated will be automated.

Self-management, peer leadership and teamwork are skills that successful people exercise and improve every day. When applied skilfully they make the working life more empowering, more motivating, and more productive.


Original version published in LinkedIn.