I am always interested to learn about a new leadership model, so I give you this week’s Management Thinker, Professor Vlatka Hlupic.
Vlatka Hlupic was born in 1965 and grew up in Croatia. She studied economics at the University of Zagreb, gaining her BSc in 1988, and continuing her studies there with an MSc in Information Systems. She then moved to the London School of Economics, where she completed her PhD in Information Systems in 1993.
From there, Hlupic took up a lectureship at Brunel University, where she remained until 2005, when she moved to her current academic role as Professor of Business and Management at the University of Westminster.
In 2014, Hlupic published her first non-academic book, The Management Shift, in which she documents her thinking.
Vlatka Hlupic’s Six Box Leadership Model
Models of leadership tend to come in three main flavours:
Characteristics models suggest that to be a good leader, you must cultivate certain characteristics in yourself. These could be anything from assertiveness and decisiveness, to friendliness and charm.
Styles based models suggest that effective leadership is a matter of style. A subset are what are called situational leadership models, which suggest that the right style depends on the situation.
Roles based models set about a number of roles that a leader needs to perform. If you can perform them all, to a high standard, then you will lead well.
Of course, nobody would seriously contend that any one of these is sufficient. Clearly a leader has a range of roles to fulfil. And they will do so best when they deploy the right style at the right time, applying the right character traits.
With that context setting out of the way, we can place Vlatka Hlupic’s leadership model clearly as a role based model. Hlupic sets out six roles for leaders to fulfil. Three of them are focused on people and the way a leader addresses those around them, and three are process roles that are concerned with material and abstract elements of an organisation.
Hlupic sees the future for organisational success as being about relinquishing a measure of control and focusing on empowering people. This is hardly original. She sets up a Taylorist paradigm as a straw person to tilt at, declaring that an over-controlling management style is demotivating and stifles staff (as did Douglas McGregor and indeed Mary Parker Follett). She advocates treating people with respect and distributing decision-making throughout the organisation.
However, the fact that her consultancy and keynote speaking business is apparently thriving tells us much about industry and governments’ continued failure to grasp these ideas.
What I think makes Hlupic’s work valuable is the suite of tools she has developed, which help her to diagnose strengths and weaknesses and to prescribe practical interventions. These are backed by her academic research.
Five Shifts to Aim for
For a summary of the shifts she advocates, we can take a look at five dichotomies that appear in her work (in my terminology, not hers):
- From command and control to trust and empowerment
- From rules to principles
- From giving instructions to empowering teams
- From transactional relationships to alliances
- From short term profit motives to serving stakeholders
To me, all of this seems a little like obvious idealism. And yet some of it is swimming against the tide of international affairs, where many Governments are being formed by transactional, narrow interest politicians.
I’d like to think that Hlupic’s research base will finally tip the scales and make some of the changes become commonplace. Perhaps it will. Her latest initiative is an attempt to harness popular sentiment to drive change in large organisations’ cultures. I am interested to see if she will succeed.