Ask, don't tell

Nora Akins

Peter Drucker coined the term "knowledge worker" in 1959 anticipating an age when people would generate value with their minds more than their muscle. As early as 1954, Drucker encouraged leaders to push decision making down through the organization. Drucker said, “Knowledge workers have to manage themselves. They have to have autonomy.” Today most of us are knowledge workers. And as knowledge workers, we often know more about our tasks than anyone, including our managers.

Managers have to accept this and their new role; to establish an overall direction and allow the knowledge worker to figure out how to get there. Draw a line from the workers’ roles to the company’s purpose and help the worker achieve by being a coach instead of a boss. Let knowledge workers know “why” and let them figure out the “what.”

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