The responsibility of five generations for breakthrough

Mrak Zalaznik4

The May Declaration, which was read in Congress Square by the extraordinary poet Tone Pavček and which was the first determined expression of the wish for a sovereign and democratic state of the Slovenian nation, was followed ten days later by a smaller, but just as important meeting. The almost 250 Slovenian managers attending were registered by the Verification Commission at the event in Cankarjev dom on 18 May 1989. It was there and then that the story of the association started with the maiden session of the Association of Managers of Slovenia. "In the background of it all was the concealed and subconscious wish that knowledge and professionalism be promoted in business instead of 'socio-political adequacy', and the efficiency of operation and technological progress instead of the dominating voluntarism." This is how Ivo Marenk, the association's first president, remembered the beginnings upon the 15th anniversary of the association.

We are facing a period of great changes for management

30 years is not a short period of time, which is attested by the fact that in 1989, almost 250 of our current members were finishing the first or second grade of primary school, some of them were learning their first words, and the youngest member was not even born yet. Today, the Managers' Association of Slovenia connects as many as five generations and, like the entire society, is learning about inter-generational coexistence, two-way transfer of knowledge and experience and new views of the world, society and what is common and of key importance to all managers—good leadership.

Why new outlooks? When we asked our members about the greatest challenges they face in managing their companies, almost half of them said that these were related to the development or growth of the company, and to the staff. 30 years is not a short time for the development of Slovenian entrepreneurship and contemporary corporate management in the framework of a market economy, but it is also not much when compared to the tradition of many countries. The challenges of growth are thus expected. Our members connect development and growth of their companies to the development of their leadership skills, technological development and digitalisation, globalisation and the environment in which they operate. In addition to the micro working environment, teaching leadership by example and the macro environment of the state, regulations and the education and tax system, they are also facing challenges related to the staff. It is not only companies that are in the development race, but states too, with one not being able to win without the other. It is globally considered for both that they are increasingly building their competitiveness on people, human capital and the advancement of technology. Management is facing great changes both in the world and in Slovenia. This is why new outlooks.

Greater demand for responsibility

Hierarchically organised companies which centralise the power and authority in one person are gradually (sometimes too slowly) making a transition into systems where the top management is the 'first among the equals'. Although today we like to draw lines between management and leadership, as "managers do things right and leaders do the right things", it is true that in practice, management and leadership today cannot win without each other. The future of work requires adequately developed soft skills on the one side and a surplus of technology in artificial intelligence, robotics, automation and, consequently, higher productivity and added value on the other. Meanwhile, climate change is finally forcing us to also think in a sustainable fashion when managing companies. The future is thus reserved for technologically advanced and collaborative systems, which are sufficiently agile in the implementation of new technologies and more ethical in their operations, as new generations bring a demand for greater responsibility towards the future generations and the planet. Agility, creativity, innovativeness, generational transformation, collective leadership and team work are just a few of the trends and forms of work that require a change in the mindset and work of leaders that we could list.

The ambition of growth and the wish to secure a better position for Slovenian companies on the global map are the additional challenges for companies, their owners and managers. Economic indicators in recent years confirm that Slovenian managers and entrepreneurs are leaning in the right direction.

A developmental breakthrough is again ahead of us. When we take a look back in 2039, when the Managers' Association of Slovenia will be half a century old, we believe that the five generations will be proud that we have made it. And that we have fulfilled the mission of management in society responsibly.

Saša Mrak, the executive director of the Managers’ Association of Slovenia, and Aleksander Zalaznik, the president of the Managers' Association of Slovenia