The prevalence of knowledge workers and the knowledge workforce is actually less than three decades old, and we all know change is mostly slow and painful. But the truth of the matter is what worked for success in the 1990’s will absolutely not work in the 21st century, for two very big reasons. First, our front line workers are now highly educated, and more times than not, professionals in their own right, and management and leadership skills of the 1990’s will not fly with the new front line staffers. And second, the nature of the work itself – knowledge work – brings with it innate stresses that organizations are only now starting to recognize and respond to.
Knowledge workers, the knowledge workforce, and the nature of knowledge work itself are not going away, and for the most part, will not become any less stressful. The chaos, complexity and ambiguity of organizations in today’s era of knowledge and connection are here to stay. What must change is how we support and train our leaders and managers, and how we lead and manage our workforce. The technical aspect of the knowledge economy is set and leaders must respond and evolve accordingly. Most organizations understand that the performance of their knowledge workers at the individual level, whether it’s the front line, mid-management, or executive suite, can make or break the business.
Performance management has traditionally focused on clarifying and measuring organizational objectives and outcomes, as well as setting goals and monitoring results of our human resources. For the past two decades the spotlight for management and leadership training has been on team and work-group dynamics as more and more we become organizations of knowledge-based technicians and professionals that must combine collective expertise to achieve goals and objectives. The corporate world is very aware of the power of a great team – the power of a group people to attain the unattainable – the power of a group of professionals with diverse skills to reach a higher potential than any single individual could ever attain on their own.
At the heart of a high-functioning integrated team in a performance driven culture is performance at the individual level – and more specifically, ‘influential leader’ behaviour skills. Every team member is an influential leader regardless of rank or title. What’s more, people pay more attention to behaviour than to words. It is influential-leader behaviour, not words, that determines how engaged, agile and productive the team is. Influential-leader behaviour skills are what we ‘see’ in the workplace. These are the behaviours of collaboration and connection. These behaviours have been studied and the science has confirmed that they only occur when individuals have cultivated a positive and energized mindset focused on team performance and goals.
The skill of Positive Presence is the innate ability in every individual to adjust for and create a positive and energized mind-set. It is a learned skill for a new way of thinking and being … and it is unique to every individual. It is also the intrinsic skill that drives the influential-leader behaviours of collaboration and connection.
To survive and succeed in today’s work environment calls for a new kind of training and support that starts with a focus on individual mindset and behaviour. The skill of Positive Presence makes the connection between individual mindset and/or behaviour and individual human energy. Developing and growing the skill of Positive Presence is a journey of awareness, relationships and organizational connection that will bring the human element of organizational performance to the forefront of success in today’s knowledge economy of connection.