Throughout the Twentieth Century we learned about our country’s transition from the Agricultural Age to the Industrial Age. In this change-over we went from requiring access to land, to requiring access to capital, as a means to success. Next we moved on to the Space Age followed by the Information Age. And again we moved from needing Knowledge to needing Technology for success. In the Agricultural and Industrial Ages, resources were held by a few who became the driving capitalists of the time. But there is no doubt that as these Ages have progressed the few have become the many, allowing more and more individuals to take advantage of their own minds, wits and ambitions.

Over the last two decades, more people than ever have gained access to the once differentiating resources of Knowledge and Technology. Indeed, all someone needs to do is go to any Junior High School to see how prevalent Technology is in our everyday usage. Everyone has it! This decrease in differentiation has flattened the competitive arena between businesses, markets, and global influences. Every company has access to Knowledge and Technology at ever increasing speeds. And with Knowledge and Technology outpacing development, the result becomes a temporary market advantage at best. Today, a “competitive void” exists for most businesses.

The answer: PEOPLE! The People Age is upon us. The ability to assemble a Team of people who are smart, talented, driven, customer centric and quality focused in today’s workplace is the new differentiator. It is the People who are going to make or break a business going forward. They are the “sustainable competitive advantage” you have been looking for.

 

As in the Agricultural and Industrial Ages, they will have to be hard working, productive and capable of creating and supporting growth. And they will have to be thinkers, problem solvers, creators like those institutions of the Space and Information Age. The difference is those machines and institutions are now the People.

If you have the best machine, the best product, the best process, you can bet it is only a short matter of time before someone else is copying you. But think about it. What can they do to compete against a superior team of people? They will always be behind!

As a manager in the People Age your challenge has increased. The People Age requires strong leaders who can guide and focus people towards the achievement of goals. A “best in class” team will not follow a poor leader. They will not just go through the motions like poor performers do. They will revolt or leave. So it becomes your job to be ready to manage and lead in the People Age. You should start by asking yourself these questions: How well do your “top performers” respect you and follow your lead. What kind of relationship do you have with them? Are you working together or against each other? How much time do you spend with them?

For now on, your Number One Job is to put together and lead a Team which can compete against their counterparts at other companies and Win!

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