PARTICIPATORY MANAGEMENT, TEAMWORK AND LEADERSHIP
Key requirements for the success of organizations in the twenty-first century
By Jaime Herrera S., Expert in human-resource development and organizational development
San José, Costa Rica – October 2001
PARTICIPATORY MANAGEMENT These new times also demand a new
organizational model, one that reflects the
The advent of the knowledge age has knowledge and information age rather
brought us a world in transition, a world of than the industrial age now past.
chaos and insecurity in which the pace of
change runs ever faster. This new model must be founded on
principles and values which, together with a
It is a world in which the economy will be statement of aims, can form the basis of a
based on knowledge, in the sense of mission statement. An organization needs a
understanding how to do something, and on broad, shared vision of the future, an identity,
intellectual capital, rather than on land, a destiny, a perspective with regard to its
money or raw materials. goals and how they can be achieved, a
management that knows how to get everyone
to pull in the same direction and a leadership
It is a globalized world in which competition is that is a driving force for change and which
fierce and customers have unlimited access draws its strength from a culture of complete
to products, services and information. It is a trust and commitment.
world in which it is not enough merely for one
to do things well: one must do things first and
better than anyone else, with more creativity The raison d'être of an organization must
and innovation. be to assure the full satisfaction of its
customers and of everyone within it
(employees, suppliers and shareholders).
It is a world in which linkages are more
important than countries or their boundaries.
It is a world in which we will survive because An organization must be socially responsible
we tackle it head-on with every sinew of our and be aware of its role within the concept of
strength and energy, nourished by natural, sustainable development. An organization
immutable principles and values. must be a world of continuous learning,
intellectual capital and emotional intelligence,
and be highly flexible and responsive so that
We must rethink the future, reconceive our it can swiftly adapt to an ever more chaotic,
purpose in life and our own individual future. complex and interdependent environment in
We must recognize that the future will be which change is increasingly non-linear,
different from the past, that the trodden path discontinuous, unpredictable and even
ends here and that the journey ahead will be destructive.
an experience without signposts to guide us.
We need to change how we see things in An organization must be, then, a system of
order to adapt to the process of abrupt hearts and minds that function and are driven
change through which we are living. as one towards a common goal, a group of
people who will work together and learn
together and create synergy both inside and
One thing is sure: the future will not be outside the organization.
simply an extension of the past, but rather
a series of discontinuities which,
paradoxically, will become new In reconceiving the future, the following
opportunities. are needed, inter alia:
To create a new customer-centred rank and file may feel that their ideas are not
organizational model based on highly genuinely welcomed.
productive processes and systems run
by people to whom the power to act In the twenty-first century, an organization will
and the responsibility for achieving represent the confluence of three factors:
successful results have been
delegated. a) A high degree of commitment to the
To promote the development of a work, which means that activities will
leadership which, rooted in natural need to be organized so that they can
principles and values, will unleash and be carried out by self-directed groups
democratize creative power and which are able to manage the required
decision-making in the organization and resources and design their own working
generate intellectual capital. procedures in order to attain the
objectives set for the group as a whole.
The solution which seems to respond to It has been demonstrated that, when
these and many other needs being imposed groups use this participatory
on companies by the current global mechanism, their work improves in
environment is the establishment of an terms of productivity, quality and
organization by processes, in which innovation and the staff themselves
traditional functions are replaced by enjoy greater job satisfaction.
processes so that specific attention can be b) A focus on managing businesses or
focused on the clients of each process. projects rather than on managing units
centred on specific functions. In other
This demands entrepreneurial dynamism and words, a company's management
flexibility, which means that there must be needs to be organized around
fewer layers of decision-making authority so processes, and use multidisciplinary
that those responsible for processes can be groups whose members are drawn from
given the power and responsibility to make different units and different hierarchical
decisions. levels within the organization.
To ensure that a matrix-based organization c) The immediate dissemination of
functions properly according to business information to anyone in the
processes, a wholesale change in organization. Thanks to advances in
management philosophy is needed. information technology, information
Participatory management has to be about facts, responsibilities and results
introduced in which power is shared, can be distributed to virtually any part of
everyone is given an opportunity to the organization. The key is to put the
participate, work is conducted by consensus information together in a coherent,
and multidisciplinary teams are utilized to accessible form, using an appropriate
implement processes. management information system.
All this demands a change in corporate TEAMWORK
culture, in which everyone must adopt the
new principles and values, particularly
senior managers. Unfortunately, if top In this new environment of innovation and
management does not become involved in change, one of the primary management
participatory management, the entire challenges is to design more flexible
process will be undermined. organizational structures.
If middle managers do not feel that they enjoy Organizations are replacing their old vertical
the support of their bosses, they will have hierarchical structures with new horizontal or
great difficulty in promoting ideas brought matrix-based structures, linking traditional
forward by their staff – in which case the staff functions through inter-functional teams, and
establishing strategic alliances with suppliers, to decide, as a group, what will lie at the core
customers and even competitors. of the organization's institutional culture.
The organization of the future has a structure What will be the natural, immutable, shared
that can be reconfigured so as to make the principles and values around which they will
best use of teams that are flexible and whose rally in a common quest to achieve results
make-up varies over time, in coordination that go beyond the ordinary.
with and as a consequence of the satisfaction
of market needs and expectations, the Management by values means fully
behaviour of competitors and other market appreciating that true success comes from
factors, the acquisition of essential the daily practice of those principles and
competencies and the formation of groupings values and that it is not enough simply to
to provide access to capabilities and declare adherence to them: they must be
resources for those who do not possess absorbed within our being, we must live them
them. and act according to them in our every
thought and deed. It is people, not the
It requires teams whose members are drawn
organization, that make management by
from different departments and disciplines
and possess a broad array of knowledge,
talent and skills, teams in which open
dialogue, acceptance of ideas, trust, The organization of the future enables its
cooperation and creativity predominate. personnel to achieve excellence in working in
The managing of processes requires a series
of management paradigms for which A diverse team which is self-directed and
supervisors are responsible. self-managed and kept effectively informed
provides the energy, imagination and
The management style must change from capacity for learning needed by a flexible
one of control to one of instruction and organization.
guidance. There must be a move to the
concept of an organization without Individuals will participate in one team or
boundaries. another, or perhaps in several at the same
time, contributing their knowledge, talent,
An organization without boundaries has a skills and experience. Any particular
structure based on a model that stresses the individual may be a leader of one team, but
free circulation of individuals, information, simply one more member of another. The
ideas, processes, tasks and resources of important thing is that each individual must
every kind. always make a great personal effort, possess
a mind that is totally open, alert and ready for
The attention of managers and leaders must dialogue, see others as colleagues and
be focused on how these boundaries can be friends, and be deeply committed to the
made porous, so that ideas, information, results and achievements of the group as a
capabilities, information, rewards and actions whole.
can be deployed quickly wherever they are
most needed. The value of individuals and their diversity in
regard to temperament, knowledge, talent,
The boundaries of an organization can be
skills, experience, background and mental
likened to the flexible, permeable membrane
approaches must be fully appreciated and
of a living organism in constant evolution.
welcomed in the organization of the future for
the wealth of ideas and the competencies
Management by values and perspectives that each individual brings
to solving problems and achieving the total
The most important action that the members satisfaction of customers' expectations and
of the organization of the future must take is needs.
But diversity does not refer only to people. It part and not to detract from the group's
also applies to systems, technologies, performance.
functions, business lines and so on.
Appropriate leadership. Any group,
Working in teams is not easy if the current no matter how self-managed it may be,
hierarchical culture is maintained. In order for needs a leader who can serve as a
a work team to be successful, the following guide, who can coordinate all the areas
are required of supervisors and team mentioned above and who can serve as
members alike: the link between the group and the
company's top management.
Respect for individuals. Each
member of the team has been selected LEADERSHIP AND REQUIRED VALUES
because he or she has something to
contribute towards achieving the Management and leadership: The main
objectives that have been set. difference between management and
Accordingly, regardless of the person's leadership lies in the roles that one assumes
hierarchical ranking or academic in each case in order to influence others. The
qualifications, he or she must be distinction can be seen in the following
respected and must respect the other examples:
members of the team.
Confidence in the capabilities of 1. Management: A person's position is
other team members. Confidence based on authority, which is bestowed
must be placed in each person's by the organization's senior
capabilities and in what he or she is management. In other words, senior
able to and undertakes to contribute. management gives the manager
Sharing of skills and knowledge. authority to exert control over those
Since the team is multidisciplinary, who work with him or her.
each team member has to share his or Consequently, authority is understood
her own knowledge and skills by as the manager's ability to give
teaching them to the other team instructions and the obligation of
members, and has to learn from the anyone under his or her direction to
others any skills and knowledge that he comply.
or she does not possess. 2. Leadership: Leadership is based on
Active participation. The group has to willing followers. Leadership is gained
create a working dynamic such that by contributing towards everyone else's
everyone is able to take an active part. well-being. Leadership has to do with
Anyone who does not take part is the leader's knowing how to do
superfluous: the group does not need something and knowing how to
that person. motivate others to do something
through their own willingness to do so
The knowledge that everyone rather than through the imposition of
depends on the group and that the authority.
group depends on everyone.
Everyone has to learn that success or It is not leadership if a boss gives orders
failure does not depend on him or her and secures the effort of his or her
alone, but on each and every member. subordinates simply by virtue of his or her
Everyone needs to learn to rely on authority.
A sense of responsibility for doing THE IDEAL IS TO HAVE LEADER-
his or her part. If success or failure MANAGERS
depends on each member of the team,
each must possess the sense of Management refers to the way in which
responsibility necessary to do his or her authority is used to delegate work and
achieve objectives by securing the attention and effort on long-term
contribution and support of everyone else. results, taking steps to deal with the
Managing means carrying out organizational effects of any changes in the
processes, particularly with respect to: surrounding work context.
5. Paying attention to the business
1. Planning: This refers to selecting environment. Preparing the company
future courses of action leading to to deal with challenges.
desired objectives, and determining
how those objectives are to be 6. Setting objectives. Helping to create
achieved. an appropriate institutional culture.
2. Programming: This refers to fleshing 7. Motivating and giving
out action plans in detail, determining encouragement. Recognizing and
who is to perform which tasks, and sharing the achievements of each
when and how. individual and of the group as a whole.
3. Execution: This is the actual carrying
out of activities that have been planned Ideally, traditional bosses should develop
and programmed. their leadership abilities and become
leader-managers. Some of the personal
4. Supervision: This means comparing characteristics of leadership are innate, and
what has been done with what was those that are not can be learned with a little
planned, and taking any corrective effort.
action that may be necessary.
The personal traits necessary for leadership
vary depending on the nature of the team to
It may be said that being a manager
be led, and have to do with the particular
means working to see that things are
characteristics, values, expectations and
done properly, and giving direction to the
objectives of the members of the group.
General traits: A leader is characterized
Leadership: This has to do with relationships mainly by the following traits:
between people and work teams in working
to define their objectives and goals.
1. The desire to take on responsibilities
Leadership covers, inter alia:
and get things done.
1. Questioning processes. This means 2. Initiative, daring and originality in
seeking out opportunities, innovating, selecting objectives and means.
taking risks and learning from mistakes. 3. Energy and perseverance in attaining
Leadership means changing and objectives.
overturning existing paradigms.
2. Creating a vision and sharing it. A
leader has to see what the future can 5. The ability to cope with stress and
be and draw others around so that they frustration.
share that vision. Leadership is helping
a particular perspective to become 6. The willingness to make decisions and
widely shared. accept the consequences.
3. Enabling others. This means 7. The intelligence to take action as
strengthening cooperation and trust, necessary according to the
and encouraging and enabling staff to circumstances, without giving personal
perform and to develop. offence to anyone.
4. Showing the way forward. Leadership 8. The ability to communicate well, and to
is planning small victories, focusing establish personal contacts.
THE FUNCTIONS OF A TEAM LEADER the objective of the telecommunication
Linkage function: A team leader must relate Performance-evaluation function: The
the objectives of the organization to the assessment of the contribution made by each
objectives of the team that he or she leads. person through his or her own efforts towards
Information-sharing function: Possessing the attainment of the company's objectives is
information is a necessary condition for the best indicator that has been found to date
taking on responsibilities. Anyone who lacks for purposes of staff development.
the necessary information is unable to Teaching function: The idea is not that a
perform his or her duties responsibly. leader must become an instructor who
Spokesman function: A team leader must imparts information to subordinates or
respond quickly to requests, ideas and develops their skills. Rather, the teaching
suggestions, without taking a defensive function for a telecommunication leader
stance, and take appropriate action that will relates to his or her attitude in promoting an
promote cooperation and trust. environment in which learning can take place
on the basis of everyone's own experience on
Innovation function: It is essential that the job.
leaders in telecommunication companies
maintain at all times a focus on innovation,
and, to be sure, that they convey the same CONCLUSIONS
approach to their work teams throughout the
organization. It is not an easy task to change a company's
Delegation function: Delegation consists of institutional culture, preserve and consolidate
defining the work to be carried out, assigning worthwhile values and instil new values
the corresponding responsibility and granting among the staff. The group responsible for
the necessary authority so that whoever is following up on this cultural change, which is
responsible for carrying out the tasks is something any organization must have, has a
empowered to make the necessary hard and never-ending task.
However, this is an issue that affects us all,
Conflict-management function: It is and so we all must be concerned with seeing
imperative that a leader be able to analyse the transformation carried out in the best way
and understand the root cause of problems. possible. WE CAN ALL HELP by doing our
Devising practical, creative solutions is a bit. If we set an example, we can have an
necessary condition in telecommunication influence on the rest.
companies in this new century.
Negotiating function: The underlying Let us do what we can to ensure that our
principle in any negotiation is that both organization is the best place in the world to
parties must achieve something: it must be a work, for the benefit of the organization itself,
"win-win" situation. Between any leader and for our own sake and for our country. We can
his or her team, a relationship of mutual do it if we all pull together!
cooperation must be established, since
everyone is united in a common objective:
a) Instructional materials for the ITU course "Gerencia con liderazgo" ["Management and
b) Instructional materials for the ITU course "Construyendo la organización del siglo XXI"
["Building the organization of the twenty-first century"].