Manager of tomorrow. I was asked to write a contribution to a great Italian event dedicated to Managers.
It was welcomed with a great interest and I report it here
Manager of tomorrow seen through my eyes, Valeria Cagnina, 17 years-old.
Certainly you are smiling...since I am smiling while I’m writing this. What do I have – so young – to teach you who are reading? Certainly nothing.
So I would like to report simply my experience – very particular and uncommon – which determined what my thinking and my “vision” of the world is today.
With my partner Francesco Baldassarre – thanks to the really many environments so heterogeneous we mix with every day thanks to our activities and the world outline we move in – I am able to catch many aspects that we take for granted today, but that we realize they are not for who is not as lucky as us as regards moving and contamination.
And with these two words we already touched two well precise and distinctive features of the manager of tomorrow. But already that one of today I’d say, so we’ll define it – at least in this first phase – manager simply.
For us, the manager is a positive and proactive figure who is not afraid of future, but it’s a person determined to believe in oneself.
It is aware that – already since time – the hard skills are no longer alone the main and prevalent part of it being manager.
So it is a figure who keeps evolving, a part of the world it lives into which goes fast and unstoppable.
For this reason, it knows very well that it cannot stop – but neither prevent nor delay – the process of evolution which has to be ridden catching the opportunities in a flash.
So the predisposition to change has to be natural and “daily”, change and attitude as behaviors which don’t make frighten by robots and technologies, since they are aware that – even if there are huge and fascinating economic, political and ethical debates around this entire field – robots and technologies exist in order to make us the work and everyday life easier.
Collaborate with them it means to keep always up.
So here it is the more expected and popular question about the subject: Will the robots steal the job from us?
Of course, they will. It is the only possible answer. They already do it, but they will steal only and exclusively the most boring, repetitive jobs, with no use of brain, those ones nobody like to do.
So the jobs with complex decisions will be left to us: the jobs that involves factors not well defined, the most creative ones, those ones that need a high use of brain. In short…the most beautiful jobs!
However, we won’t remain without a job. Already today the positions discovered in Italy, in Europe and in the world (even if these things aren’t taught at school!) are really many, but only at some conditions.
Personal formation will have to be non-stop, forever, and it will be an integral part of our existence (as it should already be!), but not only in the specific fields of interests and professional fields, but it will have to be a steady formation in the round.
So, contamination will be an essential element for many, indispensable soft skills, too often put in a marginal role of private and professional life.
Soft skills are not learnt at school; they are a way to be. So, how can we develop them? Answers are many and not univocal, as well the roads to go through (since our birth!): they will not have to be chosen random, but they will have to intersect more or less all in life, according to the occasions ahead of us and those ones we will create
We are firmly convinced that luck is what happens when talent meets opportunity!
Talent meant as not only natural gift, but as personal attitude embracing a big sphere of our being and that we have to cultivate every day.
So contamination will be among working environments, professional figures, hierarchical scales…but not only.
You get contaminated moving into completely new environments, with art and creativity which has to be cultivated and fed every day.
Don’t laugh! Probably in your life you have already put it into marginal roles too much without realizing what piece of life you barred yourselves and instead how it could help you.
We see it every day, working with you managers when we see you frightened by a blank sheet and a colored felt-tip pen in front of the phrase “draw want you want!”.
In my small experiment often one of the most effective contamination is travelling.
No matter what where to: from the most technological places in the world (I think about Silicon Valley or MIT in Boston) as far as the less tech and oldest ones (I think about Ghana, Togo and Benin or Nepal).
Talking to people, ask them questions, “live” for a bit experimenting with their lives, needs and requirements by a marginal way, makes discover different point of views in each situation if we will be able to listen to with the right open-mind.
On the other hand, listening is the first step towards our ability of problem solving which – joined to the attention to others’ needs we’ll have been got – will help us in everyday life.
Linked to the travelling aspect, the natural reference which keeps going on a logical thread is certainly ethic.
Ethic of the manager, but ethic of people above all.
Each of us is convinced to act by an ethic way, right? But our acting as managers is it always ethical?
Business decisions we take every day are they ethical? The business ethic develops and helps business. Is it a cliché or do we really think that?
Certainly each of us answers “yes” to all these questions. But, travelling and get contaminated will open new worlds to go through. As first thing it will destabilize our definition of ethic.
What is ethical for me, is not in the remote village of Africa and it is not in Boston, where the greatest brains on earth discuss about these matters.
Ethic that is taught at school (but, is it really possible teach ethic???) in Italy, Morocco, Sri Lanka or in Saudi Arabia is completely different.
So we are seized by doubt and we are forced to question ourselves, but we have to do it with our values on the back.
At this point we won’t be afraid of difference anymore, but it will be the added value. It won’t be a melting pot and a cacophony of elements, but a growth for all thanks to exchanges.
It means necessarily we have to go out of the comfort zone to measure ourselves, to risk, to take the responsibility of change, not only ours, but also that one of people around us. Because being manager is a huge responsibility, ethical, too!
Travel and contamination will allow us to get a global vision that – joined to a vision of detail developed every day through the hard skills – will be the winning key. Not only to dream big, but also to act, making one’s own dreams real – the most incredible ones, too, those ones nobody wouldn’t bet anything on.
Do you think this is a 17-year-old girl speech? Certainly it is in part, but don’t forget that this is the way of thinking that allowed an anonymous teenager like me to leave from Italy and arrive at MIT in Boston as senior tester when I was 15!
What did push me? Most of all passion for what I do, certainly: I explored many fields in my life thanks to my curiosity (and thanks to my parents who let me doing this!).
I found my passion very early and it is the only element that allows me to not feel labor, to not look at the watch and above all to pass obstacles which are unsurmountable, but only at first sight.
SorI smile when I am asked how many hours I work in a day or if I believe to lose something about my adolescence.
I am convinced that are the young of my age that are losing adolescence!
I don’t work: I enjoy myself in everything I do because I love everything I do. If it weren’t like that, I wouldn’t do it.
Could my passion change over time? Who knows! I’m only 17!
But if that day comes, I’ll have however the certainty to be able to “change life”: every day I get formed, build my personality and the winning mix is the awareness of mental freedom which will allow me to arrive everywhere I decide to aim. Aware that failure – well-pondered because taken into consideration however – is a part of the growth and life path of each of us.
So I’m going to resume the initial concept of manager.
Are we sure that here we’re talking about manager of tomorrow? Or are we talking about manager simply? I think the definition is total today, since it embraces the whole of our being and cannot be considered in a separate way.
We cannot talk about manager in a reality where professional life is an integral part of private life, so we can only talk about person in its whole. And here we open another boundless field: the work life balance one, a field that we open and close immediately.
In fact, we have already seen that work isn’t a job if we enjoy ourselves and really love what we do.
Passion and positivity will be the essential factors in the so fluid actual world and the work life balance will be perfect thanks to them and the right choices we’ll have done in life.
The first rule of our educational robotics school: nothing is impossible! Cool, right? Powerful, we say!
In our activities – ranged from 3 to 99 years old – is forbidden to say “I can’t do it” because we believe it is only a mental block, a negative attitude to convince ourselves to give up.
We teach big and little ones to replace it with other expressions: “I still have to learn”, “I have to try more”, “can you teach me doing it?”
Starting from a positive attitude containing a proposal, we’ll realize soon that things really impossible are fewer than we think and at the same time we’ll be able to transmit both children and managers even more important concepts.
The expression “I still have to learn” prepares to change and teaches that is never too late: the right moment to do things is now, there are no excuses!
“I have to try again” transmits the essential determination to make what we’re doing possible, “can you teach me doing it?” opens to collaboration, team working and exchange, independently of team’s composition in that moment and place.
Who has a skill transmits it to others independently of the business, social, working, professional role…that’s what’s the flat organization so becomes an integral part of everyday life.
By a natural way the mixed and heterogeneous teams will be the essential ingredients for the best results.
Also the Aging won’t be a problem so felt anymore if – thanks to the reverse mentoring –we’ll be able to valorize every skill without worry about titles and roles.
So I wish you to get my motto yours: “I’m a Whynotter and not a Yesbutter!”. In front of every new situation I never say “yes, but…” and I always think “why not?”, without being afraid of new challenges.
I finish reminding you the first rule of our school again: “Nothing is impossible!”, everything can be realized day by day, with a lot of effort, determination, labor, hard work and creativity- Always remember that only in the dictionary you find the world “success” before “sweat”!
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