Importance of Leadership Development in "The Individual Age"

by  Fred Schnook  |  Workplace Issues

As the twentieth century came to a close, the industrial age ended as well.  Where most employees once worked in large manufacturing firms that relied on rote tasks performed on large assembly lines – from autoworkers to assemblers in all fields, today’s workers are more likely to work in service related jobs that require diverse tasks and interaction with many people.  Most of us now work with a computer and the internet.  Rather than assembling the same product over and over, we now process data and solve complex problems.  Some have dubbed this “The Information Age” or “New Economy”.  However, those terms fail to capture the essence of what work means in today’s economy.  If the old economy was based upon assembly of a manufacturing unit – hence the Industrial Age, then a far more descriptive term of today’s modern economy is The Individual Age.  Today, the skills, competences and talents the individual worker is what matters most.  In this Individual Age economy, and for the last thirty years, small businesses have driven job creation.  The Kauffman Foundation has reported that from 1980 to 2005, firms less than five years old accounted for all net job growth in the country.  In fact, Entrepreneurs may very well be the largest growth sector of the labor market in the Individual Age economy.  According to Ying Lowrey, Author of a paper entitled Estimating Entrepreneurial Jobs, a total of 48 million new jobs had been created by start-up firms between 1997 and 2008.

As a workforce development professional for over 20 years, I have worked to place employees with a multitude of small firms.  These small firms are, by and large, great at the product or service they deliver; they are nimble and very innovative.  However, their small size does not provide them with the economies of scale afforded to larger business firms.  Consequently, small firms often lack the human resource tools and knowledge to get the most productivity from their staff.   It has been my experience that very few small firms understand how best to structure wage and benefit packages; performance evaluations, position descriptions and work rules to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of their employees.  Small firms often make simple errors that cost them thousands of dollars in lost human capital.

Helping small firms best utilize human capital is critical to business growth.

In this Individual Age economy, where human capital (the skills, competences and talents of individual workers) matters most, helping small firms and entrepreneurs understand how to best utilize human capital is a critical to individual business growth.  Furthermore, because small firms and entrepreneurs are the engine of job growth, understanding how to best utilize human capital is critical to the Tulsa region’s economic prosperity.  Comprehensive, short-term training such as Bud to Boss, are designed with busy small firms entrepreneurs in mind.  This is a much needed training opportunity to the business community, featuring a best-selling author and at a low cost.  The training is well designed and absolutely critical for small firms.  When Bud to Boss comes to Tulsa or to your city, take advantage of the opportunity to develop your organization by investing in your future leaders.

Lead Change Tulsa, Workforce Tulsa, Choose Tulsa Jobs, Visiting AngelsTeri Aulph Consulting, Crossroads Communications and Giana Consulting have partnered to bring best-selling author Kevin Eikenberry to Tulsa on October 24 & 25 to present a 2-day Bud To Boss Workshop.

For information and registration click here.  

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What People Are Saying

Digital Nino  |  19 Sep 2011  |  Reply

“The Individual Age?”. Very interesting concept. Especially when you consider who technology has created informational and entertainment silos. I can, for instance, access any piece of data, watch any show, and speak with anybody–all from the comfort of my bed. Amazing how far we’ve come from the Industrial days.

Christina Haxton, MA  |  19 Sep 2011  |  Reply

Your points are spot-on, Fred. Small companies have an advantage, as I see it. And the advantage is they are small and intimate enough to still be mindful of the value of the relationships built in the process of building the business.

P.S. I won’t be surprised when “From Bud to Boss” becomes an acclaimed resource for entrepreneurs comparable to Michael Gerber’s “The E-Myth Revisited.”

Fred Schnook  |  21 Sep 2011  |  Reply


Thanks for your kind words. I sure do appreciate it!

Entrepreneurs are the engine of economic & job growth and human capital is the coin of the realm in the new Individual Age Economy. The economy is not changing. It has changed. Therefore, events like Boss to Bud that assist small firms and entrepreneurs in understanding how to best utilize human capital is critical; not only to in individual businesses, but to communtiy and national economic development. Thanks again!

Fred Schnook  |  22 Sep 2011  |  Reply

Digital Nino:
Thanks for commenting.
I like the term Individual Age as it probably best describes what is happening with the workforce and the explosion of small firms and private consultants. Another descriptive term could be the Free-Agent Age. The end of the Industrial Age connotes much more than the shift to service sector work; there is also a fundamentally different structure in the employer-employee relationship. Where many of us once worked for the same firm for 30 years, now we switch, not just jobs, but careers many times. Furthermore, workers are now are much more likely to start their own business and/or consult. Workers now move in and out of these two realms (working for themselves or working for someone else) frequently.

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