The powerhouses of our companies today are made up of increasing
numbers of professionals.
The number of companies that would describe themselves as
knowledge-intensive is also increasing think of R&D labs, hi-tech,
IT, media, business support, health and educational organizations.
Managers tend to think that these new organizations and their staff
must be managed like before. But to do so can create more problems
than it might solve.
Professionals are for the most part already motivated and do not
need to be managed. They have studied many years to be able to do
their job. Frustrating their enthusiasm by steering and controlling
them can restrict their ability to perform to the best of their capability.
In any such organization, the avoidance of forms, meaningless
report writing, and restrictive rules and procedures, will lead
to much greater productivity and improved quality. Professionals
should be trusted in advance and given room to exercise their discipline
at a state of the art level.
Mathieu Weggeman has written many books and articles on managing
professionals, on how to conserve creativity, on innovation
and on knowledge management. This book is an accolade. It is
about the new servant leadership: the kind of leadership required
for these companies. It explains the characteristics and peculiarities
of professionals in the workplace. It emphasizes that their most
important production factor is their knowledge, and their most
difficult task is innovation.
The role of the manager is to create the environment in which both
these traits can flourish, and thus to help professional organizations
achieve their collective ambitions.
Mathieu Weggeman is a professor of organization science at the Eindhoven
University of Technology, the Netherlands. He is also a boardroom consultant
for knowledge-intensive organizations.
Cees Hoedemakers is a consultant in the energy industry.