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Today, the walls of the corner office have fallen. Along with Millennials entering the labour market, technology has overtaken the exchange of knowledge and admiration has disappeared. This imposes new requirements to the manager including a significant change in leadership style.

When I began my career more than 20 years ago, the corner office and know-it-all boss dogma was largely governing. The basic value behind this was that the director was wiser than the employees, and the only one giving orders and deciding on the company’s direction.

It is maybe a tiny bit exaggerated, but the title as manager back then was significantly different. This form of leadership doesn’t work anymore. That is due to three things:

  1. New technology has changed our business model
  2. Millennials have changed the workforce’s composition and
  3. Disruption, digitalisation and globalisation have changed well known leadership and market conditions

The time where management knew more than the employees is over. Technology has democratised information flow, and data is large and easily accessible through knowledge forums and social media. It means that employees have the same knowledge as the leader and have access to the same learning tools. But it also means the know-it-all boss no longer exists.

At the same time, the workforce’s composition has changed significantly. Today, Millennials constitute 35% of the workforce, and they will represent 46% in 2020. Because these 18 to 37-year olds grew up with the digital world as an integrated part of their consciousness, they are now the most wanted after employees ever. They are born digital and do not live according to the analogue business models.

Digitalisation and disruption have turned our existing market upside down, which means we have to change the way we think and act to survive in the new world order.

Today it is the humble leader who delivers results.

You are more than ever dependent on your employees’ competencies within innovation, creativity and factual knowledge. When it comes to disruption, it is especially the Millennials’ digital mind-set you need. They see no limits to their capabilities and, if exploited properly, they can help you in disrupting and growing your company.

The management’s most important task is to find each employee’s full potential. It is not bad to be a charismatic and strong leader, but research shows that leaders who are not promoting themselves, but make room for others instead, are better at reaching targets.

To be humble is an extremely valuable leadership skill. To be humble means you can listen to others’ opinions and ask the right questions. At the same time, you need to be able to admit your mistakes. A leader that admits he or she has made a mistake leads to employees believing it is okay to do the same. It is especially important to show humbleness in groups where employees have different backgrounds and cultures. It shows humanity and promotes a common understanding. 

Humbleness is much more effective than always trying to be better and have the right answer.  It is primarily due to the fact that, as humans, we love to contribute. There is nothing more rewarding than contributing to an important case. A leader who gets the team to contribute will therefore achieve better results and will, at the same time, be seen as a better boss, who listens more and is engaging.

My advice is therefore to show humbleness towards your employees and your working tasks. As a manager, you need to have an open mind and the desire to learn from others. Create an environment where your employees feel engaged and give them responsibility. It makes them more innovative and engaged, and motivates them to do an extra effort.

That way you can achieve results - also when you don’t know everything.

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