Professor Hlupic sets out her comprehensively researched case for why the time has come to change the practice of management to achieve transformational improvements in the performance of organisations. She shows what needs to be done to achieve this transformation and then takes the next step to show how that can be achieved (and has been achieved for some organisations) using her 6 Box Leadership Model.
Professor Hlupic’s thesis is that the bureaucratic “command & control” management paradigm that held sway in the 20th century, following Frederic Taylor’s work, “The Principles of Scientific Management” (1911), is preventing organisations from fulfilling their full potential because it is mechanistic; rigid, inflexible and untrusting. While it worked for production-line mass manufacture it does not and cannot work for 21st century knowledge-based organisations. The new leadership approach is organic; adaptable, flexible and trusting, showing a very large overlap with the ideas that Peter Drucker described in his many books on management from 1959 to 1999.
Professor Hlupic starts by reviewing traditional and new leadership approaches, comparing them systematically (their key concepts, terminology and theories) to discover why the new approach gets better results, especially from knowledge workers, who expect a large degree of autonomy. Prof. Hlupic supports this analysis with concrete examples.
Her view is bolstered by the emerging consensus amongst leading management thinkers, who consider that the old approach leads to short-term profit-maximisation strategies that lead to long-term problems, both for the organisation and for society. The new approach has people and organisational culture at its heart, with a clear higher purpose, not just profit maximisation. This encourages innovation and experimentation and leads directly to greater engagement.
The new “Emergent Leadership Model” links the consciousness of the individual within an organisation to the culture of that organisation and sees a strong correspondence, codified into 5 levels, from Level 1 (Lifeless/Apathetic) to Level 5 (Limitless/Unbounded), each with consequences for the effectiveness of the organisation. Old-style management can get an organisation from level 1 to level 3 but no further. To get to the higher levels requires a shift to the new management style; hence “The Management Shift”.
Professor Hlupic’s next, and innovative, step is to describe how an organisation can move from level 3 from level 4, using her 6 Box Leadership Model, a diagnostic toolkit to let an organisation investigate where it is on the level1-to-level 5 spectrum in an objective and systematic way. She describes how the 6 Box Leadership Model came to be, the philosophy behind it and how it was developed and tested so that there is empirical evidence that it is a reliable tool. This is supported with concrete examples, surprisingly frank, of its application and the effect it has had on various organisations and individuals.
This is not a light read. The reader needs to persevere, but the prize is well worth the effort. Professor Hlupic’s passion for the transformative power of her approach is palpable. This is not a dry academic book, but a call to arms supported by strong evidence. I have read similar books and articles, but they lacked the evidential base that Professor Hlupic provides through her research. There is much in this book for any manager at any level, because the key concept is that Level 4 can be achieved by a change of mindset for an individual (although a critical mass of employees is required to achieve organisational change to this level). The idea that an individual can make a difference is truly inspiring. This is a book whose time has come and I will be referring back to it frequently.