Democratization of Work

by Thomas Geuken

The structure of work is being redefined. Work will entail a greater degree of individual empowerment and accountability within the next ten years. A cluster of three trend will reshape our future workstyles by mimicking,

  • Intrapreneurs: Intrapreneurship is the act of behaving like an entrepreneur while working within a large organisation. Self-directed and individual specialist operators.
  • Social Sensing: A greater emphasis on soft skills, such as work ethic, attitude, communication skills, interpersonal skills, and emotional intelligence in work.
  • Holocracy: Self-management. It is less about training employees but developing leaders. Individuals will be required to take far greater responsibility for their personal work.

Intrapreneurs

Gifford Pinchot III (1984) first defined intrapreneurs as “dreamers who do. Those who take hands-on responsibility for creating innovation of any kind, within a business”. Intrapreneurship is the act of behaving like an entrepreneur while working within a large organisation.

It is becoming increasingly important for organisations to employ self-directed, independent, and individual specialist operators with a high degree of flexibility and freedom to operate as an entrepreneur under a corporate brand and a set of corporate values.

More and more, organisations are establishing cohesive networks of individual operators working under a common set of values towards articulated visions. Fostering an intrepreneurial mind-set is largely a matter of work culture and management style. It is a practice that integrates risk-taking and innovation approaches, as well as the reward and motivational mechanisms, that are more often associated with entrepreneurship.

The two keywords will be freedom and part-ownership of what is being developed in the form of review share models etc.

Social Sensing

Due to greater individual empowerment throughout society, including the workforce, individuals are increasingly awarded greater responsibility, self-direction, and self-leadership for their own work pursuits. As such, they will be required to rely on their own skills for all aspects of their work. This not only includes technical skills, but a greater emphasis on soft skills, such as work ethic, attitude, communication skills, interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, and several other personal attributes.

Soft skills are the new hard skills and will become a cornerstone of the future workforce. The importance of these soft skills is often undervalued, and there is far less training provided for them. There tends to be an assumption that everyone knows and understands the importance of these less-tangible skills.

Developing personal accountability, interpersonal negotiation skills, adaptability and flexibility, creative thinking, and inclusion can all increase performance.

Holocracy

With greater democratisation comes more decentralised decision-making. Here, “holocracy” and self-management is receiving increased attention. It is less about training employees but developing leaders in their own right.

Individuals will be required to take far greater responsibility for their personal work, but also contribute to collective collaborative efforts. This departs from the conventional approach emphasising a vertical influence-related process (top-down) in which subordinates are controlled, influenced and managed by a single individual leader. For decades, this was the prevalent paradigm in the leadership field, yet, an emergent approach suggests that leadership is an activity that can be shared or distributed among members of a group or organisation.

This opens up new lines of thinking about informal leadership in organisations where people are empowered to make decisions concerning their own tasks at work and implement them. This necessitates a change in management thinking but also influences how work processes are designed.


About the Author

Thomas Geuken is an author, speaker and business thought leader. He is a state-certified business psychologist, associated Director of research at Copenhagen Institute for future studies and ex. music studio & production company owner. Geuken’s alternative organizational framework showed how passionate leaders could fuse their business by turning idealism, culture and progressive social awareness into huge commercial success in society. Over the past fifteen years, Geuken has authored 20 provocative articles about the future of leadership, the trajectories between arts, culture and business and other fascinating leadership topics. As a consultant and management educator, Geuken has worked for companies such as Volvo, Ikea, Leo Burnett, Novo Nordisk, Google, Chambers of Commerce (US), United Nations Development Programs, Sony Music, The government of Denmark and Norway.

Further Learning

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Rock ‘n’ Roll Leadership by Thomas Geuken

 

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