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Developing Leaders for the Marketplace Published: Sunday, May 28, 2000 By: Dr. Manuel Angel Morales

The fundamental structure of society has changed. The game of work is quite different today than it was a generation ago. When we start a new game we need new leaders. Leading a knowledge, intellectual or learning organization is different than leading, managing or working in a typical or conventional institution. The very foundation of traditional institutions have been shattered. Technology has transformed the old hierarchy. Everyone has the ability to communicate with everyone. Add to this the growth of contingent workforce. In the U.S. somewhere around 20% of the workforce is now classified as contingent. In Puerto Rico we face a similar trend. They are a force of mercenaries. In Canada, one-third of the workforce is contingent and in England goes as high as 40%. How does one lead a workforce that is divided? How does one motivate, energize a contingent, less stable workforce? Such a challenge requires different skills, aptitudes and values than in previous eras. New professionals and skilled labor face three basic challenges: Leading the transformation while achieving concrete organizational goals; leading uncontrollable processes to indefinite destinations; transforming themselves into a new type of human being. How does available research and knowledge help young professionals to cope with this new reality?

The schizophrenia that comes from focusing on two time frames simultaneously (present and future) can be made more tolerable by having measurement systems that cover both time periods concurrently. We already have one system (the profit and loss statement) that gives us a view of the recent past. This was sufficient when the market was slow moving. For the contemporary and future scenarios we need data that tell us about our level of preparedness. We cannot afford the risk of finding after the fact that we were not ready to open a new line of services, enter a new line of services, enter a new market, counteract the actions of competitors or absorb an acquisition. Readiness is a function of human and organizational competencies.

Once the transformation process creates empowerment, people get excited and want to exercise their new capabilities. New lines of communication are established and new relationships are formed, making organizations somewhat more messy. The challenge for new professionals and workers is to live with uncertainty. Ambiguity increases in direct proportion to the lack of a clear goal. It is one task to set a financial goal for one to five years. But, it is quite a different task to work with those goals. With the speed of change in the market, the idea of a five-year plan seems not realistic. On the other hand we need to have some targets. The target needs to be more balanced between financial, structural, market and human goals.

Due to the complexities of the times leaders have to learn how to raise knowledge, discuss, win, negotiate, build relationships, as well as cheer and support failures with continuous learning. Leading and working in knowledge-based organizations require a considerable capacity for research, knowledge acquisition and applications. The management of human assets is also related to the task of providing people with a vision and conditions under which they can exercise their creative talents. The name of the game is knowledge transfer acceleration. It is coupled to intellectual capital management as a collection of knowledge, experiences, information, relationships and research that can be used to create wealth.

Knowledge has been classified as tacit and explicit. Tacit knowledge is the one individuals possess. It is obtained through education and experience. Explicit knowledge is that which a team or an organization possesses. It comes from interaction, sharing their tacit knowledge, learning and contributing together. The role of leadership is to create a culture that rewards knowledge sharing.

 


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