Monday, October 29, 2012

Why Do Leaders Need to be "People Smart"? The Changing Role of Supervision - New Workforce Values and Supervisory Skills Needed

The whole world did change, and seasoned managers, those with 20 to 30 years of experience, unanimously agree on one issue: the role of the 21st-century manager and the skills required to get the job done today are significantly different from the role of the supervisor/manager as recently as 20 years ago.

Typically, people are promoted into supervisory roles based on their technical expertise. Some newly appointed supervisors make a smooth transition into leadership. Others stumble and experience multiple challenges with managing people. In addition to technical expertise, to be successful in a leadership role today, the manager or supervisor needs a whole new skill set based on being "people smart."

Why do leaders need to be "people smart"? No doubt you earned your leadership role by honing your technical expertise, working harder than most, and being loyal and committed to management and the success of your organization. Your organization recognized your talent and promoted you, giving you a supervisory title. However, when you were promoted, they forgot to tell you that supervisory title is not a guarantee for your success as a leader. With your title comes a degree of authority, but no assurance that your employees will get the job done. Effective leadership is all about a good working relationship between the employees and the boss. Your title gives you authority, but it's the working relationship you've got with your employees that gives you the power. The test of leadership is whether you have followers—people who are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure you and your team's success.

In past decades, just having a supervisory title was enough to ensure that you had your employees' attention and respect, and the job would get done. Those days are over. Today, due to a wide range of environmental and economic changes, the role of supervisor has changed substantially, requiring a whole new leadership skill set.

Values of the 1950s and 1960s Workforce
Values of Today's Workforce
Good craftsmanship
Concern for health
Happy to have a job
Job stability
Flexible schedule/Need for time off
Loyalty to boss
Work/life balance
Loyalty to company
High concern for self
Desire meaningful work
Savings account
Input appreciated
Technical ability
Interesting work

Open communication

Opportunity to advance

Personal growth


Supervisory Skills Needed: Historically
Supervisory Skills Needed: Today
Ability to control
Clarifying expectations
Coaching and counseling
Problem solving
Strong authority figure
Technical expertise










Problem solving



Team building

 The challenge for all supervisors today is to gain the attention, trust, enthusiasm, and commitment of their employees. It is no longer adequate to assemble, organize, and manage capital, raw materials, and a workforce within a tightly defined system of production. What is required is the leadership skills to create work environments of creativity, innovation, and enthusiasm so that once in, our employees are committed, loyal, and stay with us.



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