Supportive Leadership

A fresh approch for the 21st Century

PM Podcast Special
Episode 363: Supportive Leadership

Fire all your managers: ‘Supportive Leadership™’ is management’s new role

By Joseph Flahiff, Published: 16 Sep 2015 – first published on

The role of the IT manager is not what it used to be, and the people who are playing the old role need to adopt a new approach as a leader or get out of the business of managing people.

What is a manager? According to the top search result in Google, a manager is “a person responsible for controlling or administering all or part of a company or similar organization.”

The key words here are controlling or administering. What is not stated in this definition is that management is a means to an end. The end is to make the company or similar organization more profitable and productive.omplete Article on]

Traditional management works this way:

I have a project that I need done. As manager, I figure out what needs to be accomplished to complete the project. I decide the best way to do it based on my extensive experience in the industry. I decide who is best to do what part based on my knowledge of my staff, and their skills and interests. I assign that work to them and make sure they start it, do a good job at it and complete it. I check their work to ensure the quality. In the end, I coordinate all the pieces and make sure it all works together in the end.

This approach worked when the work to be done was physical — manual — labor, such as assembly and mass production.

The leader doesn’t figure out what needs to be done; instead, the leader asks the team.
In the world of knowledge work, productivity and profitability are directly linked to creativity. There is nothing routine in knowledge work; our teams need to be creating something new, and inventing new and better ways of doing things. Unfortunately, the act of controlling and administering inhibits and stifles creativity. In the now famous candle experiment, as performed by Princeton professor Samuel Glucksberg in 1962, the presence of monetary rewards and time pressure have been shown to have a negative correlation on creative problem solving. A new paradigm is necessary to get people who are doing knowledge work to increase productivity and profitability. In place of this traditional management, businesses and organizations need to put in place a system of Supportive Leadership:

Supportive Leadership is an approach to influence that gives authority to [Read The Complete Article on]