Given the severe recession and the tremendous numbers of downsizings that occurred as a result, what makes sense is that leadership is demanding and will continue to be. We shouldn’t be overestimate is the impact of the downturn. After all, when asked about the future, participants in a resent study said that they were a lot more likely to predict that spans of control would continue to widen rather than shrink. In short, this widening phenomenon probably has more to do with a larger, long-term change in organizational structures than it does with a severe but defined economic recession.
There are various reasons for thinking that leading people will only get more challenging in the future, but let’s focus on one of them here. In a research on organizational structure, participants we asked about the spans of control for vice presidents, directors and managers. What was reported was that spans of control for each of those three groups have been widening.
Bottom line: managers tend to have the same number of or more direct reports today than they did five years ago.
So, if leaders feel stretched today, just wait till tomorrow when they’ll be obligated to manage even more employees, many of whom will not feel they are getting the attention and guidance they need from their bosses.
The essential productivity of leaders will need to rise considerably.