Over the past month in the UK, we’ve been inundated with campaigns, speeches and manifestos by each of our political party Leaders, boasting a whole host of different views. Although they’re largely different in many respects, there’s one common denominator. Direction.
Each of them promises to guide our country to a better future whilst leading our people to a better way of life. So, with the general election a mere fortnight or so away, we thought we’d decipher what it means to be a fantastic leader and why it’s important in our respective workplaces.
There are many clichés nowadays; ‘a photo speaks a thousand words’, ‘what goes around comes around’ and ‘reap what you sew’. However, Donald McGannon (a late US broadcasting industry executive) manages to hit the nail on the head with his view that ‘leadership is an action, not a position’.’
I hear you, what does that actually mean?
If I asked you who your company’s best leader was, you’d probably respond with your manager’s name, your director’s name or even your CEO’s name. Correct?
You probably wouldn’t bat an eyelid to the interns or the executives. Right?
Forbes outlines a leader as somebody who produces results. So, are you really telling me the only people producing results in your workplace are your managerial team? Exactly.
I’m not suggesting that everybody in your organisation who meets a deadline or gains a few extra Twitter followers is a leader – it takes more than that to make it.
Although producing results is a fundamental quality, Forbes also explains that leadership is a learned behaviour that becomes automatic over time due to experience, personality type and encounters with unforeseen circumstances. It’s somebody who can make difficult decisions in the amount of time it takes another person to understand the question. It’s somebody who’s clear thinking and determined.
According to the National Skills Academy, bad management and leadership have a direct link to 56% of corporate failures. Furthermore, the Business Innovation & Skills report highlights that ineffective management is estimated to be costing UK businesses over £19billion per year in lost working hours.
56%. That’s over half. £19billion. That’s a lot of election campaign posters!
So, it seems pretty clear from these figures that great leadership is a fundamental quality to a successful and productive company.
As a prospective leader, you need to ask yourself ‘What kind of leader do I want to be?’ and ‘How do I want to be perceived by those reporting to me?’ Training Mag suggests. It’s not just about delegating roles and divvying out tasks. A good leader needs to stimulate their employees, they need to keep them engaged and happy, which (coincidentally, of course) relates to our previous post, Employee Recognition and the importance of making your staff feel valued.
With this in mind, it’s logical to conclude that leadership and management skills can have a direct impact on effective employee engagement, according to the Business Innovation & Skills report, with 70% of engaged employees saying they have a good understanding of how to meet customer needs while a mere 17% of non-engaged employees say the same.
The BIS report also shows that 43% of UK managers rate their own line manager as ineffective and that only one in five are qualified – further supporting the notion that you’re not automatically considered a leader just because you’ve got a great title.
Furthermore, research cited in the same report from the Institute of Leadership and Management into leadership trust, found that although trust in UK leaders and managers is reasonably high – there is substantial room for improvement.
So, how do we tackle this problem and implement great techniques in the workplace?
To begin, business support organisations have a large role to play in helping companies understand the importance that good leadership and management can have to their performance and future growth. Such organisations are available to help struggling and less informed companies thrive and better themselves in order to reap rewards and see productivity first hand.
Furthermore, there’s speculation from The Guardian that a new working style is nearing and that great leaders will need to adapt to a more hybrid and collaborative working environment, whereby the focus will be on the team effort as opposed to individuals.
As a result of this, it can be argued that leadership will come from within the team i.e. from the core outwards, as opposed from the top down, which means that leadership (as previously believed) will not just be about authority and power, but more about who brings home the bacon, so to speak, furthering the concept that leadership is down to an individual’s development and intuition, not just a great pay cheque.
It seems that leadership today is more about creating the correct organisational conditions to head towards the most beneficial direction. This is not just down to the management team, but is also hugely important for everybody in the company to embody and implement in different ways. With this in mind, although the quality of leadership and management has improved over the past decade or so, 60% of companies still face leadership talent shortages, which ultimately impedes performance, London Business School suggests.
To conclude, the National Skills Academy highlights skills deficient in UK managers including: effective leadership, strategy and planning, risk management and fostering innovation and creativity (among others), therefore, it’s beneficial to suggest that a team consisting great leadership would possess all of these skills between their employees as long-term success depends on their employees development.
So, bearing the above in mind, let me ask you again, who would you say is the best leader in your company?
Please see below for the sources for this post, among some useful links about being a great leader and how to spot bad leadership.
Account Executive at Eye Candy – Provider of promotional staff, brand ambassadors, models and other fine events and marketing related stuff.