Over the weekend, I have read Dan Pontefract’s book “Flat Army.” I was looking forward to reading an inspirational text about change management, corporate culture improvement and employee engagement, but the book appears to take the reader further.
The book deserves a thorough reading by every manager and aspiring leader who wants to go beyond proclaiming himself a humble leader but sincerely expects to be useful to the society. So I will not offer you a “Pontefract for Dummies.” Here are my personal takeaways from the book that I want to share with you.
The book highlights the fact that employees’ disengagement today has a serious impact on business efficiency. Its historical roots are in the British companies of the 16th century and the European armies of the 18th century. It is a top-down approach, a command-and-control model that has deep roots in government and industry.
Our society has changed, technology evolved – but the “leadership methodology” remains centuries-old. Special mention – Frederick Taylor’s Scientific Management that basically laid the foundation of the school of thought in which the role of a human being has been reduced to that of replaceable cogs in a highly structured machine. The machine runs well as long as it is properly oiled, and no thinking or creativity is expected from the cogs.
Obviously, the engagement of “cogs” cannot be high. With millennials and other “digital” generations joining the workforce, this disengagement has become a critical factor. Now it is obvious that lack of engagement in today’s workforce is entirely dependent on the quality of leadership.
Several sources cited by Dan Pontefract confirm that organizations with higher quality leadership are up to three times more likely to retain more employees than their competition and have more than five times the number of highly engaged leaders. But this is not as evident as upgrading the hardware, so this is not just a matter of plugging in a set of tools and techniques, as quite a few leaders would like to believe. There’s no magic solution, and rebuilding the system will take a lot of time, effort, and dedication from all parties involved, because leadership does not come from one, it comes from all.
The aim of Dan Pontefract’s book is to show how we can get to this new level. Creating a Flat Army is the way to build a new organizational culture, with “leadership for all,” which will resolve the problem of employee engagement.