Discovering new leaders

Leadership
potential is frequently ignored outside the most senior ranks, but it can
transform performance if nurtured throughout the organisation. Guy Sheppard
reports

When the likes of Rudy Giuliani give a presentation about leadership, the
audience is bound to sit up and take note. The former New York mayor, who led
the city’s recovery following the terrorist attacks in 2001, joined a
star-studded line-up of speakers who were beamed in via satellite to an
Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) seminar at the Belfry Hotel in
Warwickshire a the end of 2003.

They all emphasised the role that good leaders play in nurturing talent
among staff. As Ken Blanchard, co-author of the best-selling One Minute
Manager, said: "Effective leaders move people from dependence to
independence. The old Chinese proverb fits in here. When the job is done,
people say ‘we have done it ourselves’."

Afterwards, we asked ILM delegates and speakers: how do you create
leadership that comes alive at every level of an organisation?

Rene Carayol
Business transformation specialist

Too many people use ‘sheep dip’
seminars to achieve this sort of change. The best way to create leadership
throughout an organisation is to bring in active role models who can
demonstrate the traits that you are looking for. If, for example, you want to
see quicker decision-making, recruit people who make decisions quickly and put
them into positions where other people are able to learn from them.

Gary Ince
Chief executive, ILM

If you restrict people too much and force them into a box, they just become
managers and do what they are told. You have to give people a degree of
latitude and freedom to make decisions within certain parameters. It’s about
allowing them to act on information and interact with people in a positive way.
But you must make sure you select and appoint people with leadership qualities
in the first place.

Clive Ozzard
Management development manager, Screwfix Direct

To have a fighting chance of leading
effectively, you have to have some sort of coherent vision that everyone is
working towards. The way of communicating that vision is, very simply, telling
people, and then telling them again and again and again.

As far as the practicalities of encouraging leadership at every level, the
primary thing is for the individual to consider how they perform, particularly
in relation to other people. We try to promote awareness and give people the
tools to do that. I’m amazed sometimes at how people don’t have a high degree
of self-awareness.

Gill Cowley
HR manager, A F Blackmore (runs 200 Spar outlets)

We are currently a very procedural-based company, and managers and
supervisors don’t have the authority to deviate much from the processes we have
in place. We are starting to move away from that now because a more transient
workforce and competition from other supermarkets mean we need to develop a
different type of culture within our business.

People have to be taught how to lead, so we’ve started running an ILM course
for supervisory staff. Because it’s so flexible, we’ve been building in some of
our own criteria into the coursework. This approach will allow staff to come up
with their own ideas for change and then put them into practice.

Michelle Maynard
Group management development manager, Centrica

Developing leadership skills is about
trusting people to do the job and supporting them in the delivery of it. Rather
than telling people what to do, you coach them. That way people develop and
learn, and it’s more motivational than being in a command and control culture.

It is also important that everyone realises that they have an opportunity to
take responsibility for change themselves so they can perform more effectively,
productively and efficiently in their jobs.

Malcolm Waters
Service manager in personnel London Borough of Redbridge

Implementing strategies that allow staff to work to their strengths, either
as individuals or as part of a team, can assist in identifying leaders at all
levels of an organisation.

But there are dangers in encouraging leadership at all levels if the aims
and objectives of the organisation are not clear enough. Putting in place an
effective communication strategy is the key to ensuring that people are working
within the framework of the organisation’s objectives.

You are more likely to encourage leaders if employees feel confident enough
to nudge at some of the boundaries, knowing that they will be supported in
taking calculated risks to achieve those objectives.

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