The case against the ‘manager’ title

Many of our organizations have a traditional leadership structure. These hierarchies delineate employees’ experience and the respective titles communicate that. But does it benefit our companies to stick to this status quo? Do your organization’s titles reflect your expectations for employees?

Adam Bryant, managing director of mentoring and leadership development company Merryck & Co. and an author on organizational culture, argues that in today’s disruptive business environment some titles are no longer relevant. One he wants to eliminate is “manager.”

“The word has had a long and useful run. In the days when industry dynamics were more predictable, executives could focus their attention internally, searching for opportunities to ‘manage’ or refine their processes, and using techniques such as lean manufacturing and Six Sigma to achieve quality improvements and cost savings,” Bryant writes. “The role of managers was clear: The company gave them assets, including time, money, people, and other resources, and their job was to optimize those resources to within an inch of their lives.”

These managerial responsibilities are still important, but Bryant explains how culture has changed to make the “manager” obsolete:


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