Management and leadership expert interview series

Interview with Mark Sanborn: Leadership in the information age and the future of management

Maggie Pancheva
Nov 20, 2017

Information age and future of management: How to be a leader!

We recently spoke with Mark Sanborn, a renowned leadership expert, professional speaker and best-selling author on the most pressing topics in leadership and management today.

Here at Hibox, we’re really passionate about helping teams collaborate more effectively and in turn, maximise their productivity. We’ve worked with numerous managers and team leaders to help them improve their internal communication, manage tasks and projects better, and bolster office morale.

That’s why it was such a pleasure to interview Mark Sanborn and get his insights and answers to some of the most pressing questions in management and leadership today! 

So, what is the future of management?

For a lot of us, it can sometimes feel that the definitions of ‘management’ and ‘leadership’ can blend into one another, and it can be difficult to really distinguish two terms that we hear used in tandem so frequently.

Mark pointed out the etymology of the words is key to how we should interpret them today. Because ‘leadership’ has a root word in movement and ‘going from’ something, it’s a much more progressive and forward-thinking concept than ‘management’ (which is rooted in simply ‘handling’ something).

“Leadership is about creating change and a ‘forward’ progress and movement… Leadership is by nature disruptive.”

It was this that prompted Mark to really draw a distinction: leadership doesn’t make a difference, it makes the difference. As we were discussing leadership at both the ‘formal’ level – such as upper management – and the ‘informal’ level, it was clear that leadership embodies a skill set that anyone can have, regardless of a title.

It also became very apparent in our conversation that your motivation to be a leader is crucial. It’s not enough to want to be a leader simply for a title, power over people or to add a line to your resume. If you want to be a leader, you need to want to do the hard work and take on the responsibility that comes with the role.

The best leaders are also those that work for greater good. They solve the problems and pain points in their companies or for their customers that are challenging and require hard work to fix. They also actively seek these opportunities, as opposed to needing to be asked or coerced into it.

Importance of leadership for the future of management

“But the caveat both for problem-solving and taking on opportunities is you have to have your heart in it. Because if you don’t, it’ll backfire.”

As our interview went on, we managed to discuss several interesting aspects of leading a team that are going to become increasingly relevant in the next few years.

Without a doubt, one of the key changes to traditional management and leadership is going to be the new era of ‘telecommuting’ that is booming at the moment. More and more employers and professionals are actively seeking remote opportunities, and the ability to work flexibly and remotely from all over the world. And with such a huge change to the traditional business office environment, there are undoubtedly ramifications on team management.

How are you meant to lead team members that are spread all over the globe and probably have never met one another – or even you?

Mark emphasised that although the principles of leadership shouldn’t need to change, the application certainly does. And the key to managing remote teams is keeping up relationship-building.

“Sometimes managing virtual teams or trying to lead them, it becomes really sterile… So I would simply say: ‘what makes a team great when they’re in person and how can we do that virtually?’ And there’s no quick fix… You still need the interaction, you still need the communication, you still need the expressions of appreciation and the relationship building.”

Relationships are key when we’re looking forward to the future of leadership as well. As tech and communication only continue to evolve, they can sometimes jeopardise the relationships and people at the heart of each and every team. Mark emphasised that it’s key to remember Aristotle’s ‘golden mean’ and find the balance between relationship and results.

It remains to be seen just how much technology will affect the relationships at the centre of any type of leadership, and how managers and leaders will have to develop their skill set as a result.

It was great to get Mark’s thoughts on the future of leadership and management!

Here at Hibox, we’re really keen to make sure that teams and businesses can get the most of out their team productivity and project management – without risking the relationships between the team members that are the soul of each business.

For a complete and all-in-one internal communication tool – with task management and videoconference features to keep your team productive and connected wherever they are – try out Hibox for free today.

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