There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the 21st century organisation needs to operate on a completely different level from those of the 20th century.
Technology has most certainly been the driving force in the evolution of organisations, with the advent of the internet, digital and wireless communications changing the face of business practices entirely.
While organisational leadership has developed and implemented the necessary processes to effectively manage their technological assets, how has leadership evolved in managing the human assets of the organisation?
According to Brian Khumalo, chairman of global leadership solutions company Leaders Unlimited, people management has not evolved sufficiently to meet the needs and requirements of either individuals or organisations in the 21st century.
Khumalo has more than 10 years experience in the talent and executive recruitment industry, and has engaged with thousands of candidates and some of the country’s largest clients during this time. Through his quest to gain in-depth insight into the DNA make-up of superior leadership talent, he has discovered that ‘people issues’ relentlessly provide the greatest challenge within organisations and for leaders, regardless of the economic, technology, manufacturing or product development challenges they may face.
“My research over the past decade clearly indicates that while infrastructural, systems and process assets in an organisation have been actively developed and are sufficiently managed by their respective divisional heads to maintain competitive edge, the human element is not being optimally or even adequately managed,” says Khumalo.
He sees the shift in focus and use of physical assets within a company to wireless assets as demanding a change in human resource management to incorporate a third dimension – that of the “soul”, and he has consequently developed the notion of "soul being the wirelessness of the human asset".
To this end, Khumalo ultimately describes this third dimension, or soul, as consciousness. This he believes is the appropriate definition of human spirituality in the socio-economic context.
“Traditionally, all things spiritual have been left to organised religion to manage. However, in the 21st century the importance of the management of the spirituality of humans has made it necessary for this aspect of people to also be managed in socio-economic terms. In order to meet the needs of individuals and thereby organisations in the 21st century, people assets need to be managed first and foremost in terms of human consciousness – this goes beyond merely addressing the physical and mental,” says Khumalo.
He believes that managing talent to ensure that only the right physical and mental skills are in the right place within an organisation is no longer sufficient. In this new era winning businesses will develop sustainable competitive advantage by incorporating a thorough understanding and management of human consciousness. To achieve this he advocates the establishment of a new and certified discipline – "human conscious management".
This would see the introduction of a Chief Human Consciousness Director into organisations, under which all talent and human asset management would fall. Such directors would manage talent in terms of consciousness as the primary dimension of humans, before managing them as mental and physical resources.
“The 21st century sees an entirely different workplace from what we have ever experienced, and it demands new competencies in managing human assets. Having the latest and most efficient technologies in place will always be an organisational imperative; however it is no longer the fundamental cornerstone to achieving a competitive edge. Having the right people in the right place and in the right mental and spiritual space is increasingly the means to achieving competitive advantage in the long term.”
This, Khumalo maintains, can only be sustainable through the successful understanding and management of human consciousness.