The DfEE has set up a council to promote good leadership within companies in the UK.
Sir Michael Bichard, permanent secretary at the Department for Education and Employment, said leaders must reward successful employees. But they must also be prepared to make changes when things are not working, he told delegates at the recent CIPD conference at Harrogate. He said, “It is important that leaders recognise when they are flogging a dead horse and take action.”
Alan Hooper, director of Exeter University’s Centre for Leadership Studies, echoed his views, warning delegates their firms could end up in the grim financial situation facing Marks & Spencer if they did not have good leaders.
He said, “Their stakeholders told them four years ago and their customers told them three years ago, but they did not act.”
The Government has now set up a Council for Excellence in Management, which promotes the leadership in companies.
Bichard called on leaders to build trust relationships with their employees, telling delegates it is the single most important attribute for leaders to possess. “Once that trust is lost, there is no way to regain it. Very often in the event of complete disasters, the best thing is to move on,” he said.
He added that leaders must be prepared to trust their employees and stand by them when well-managed risks went wrong.
He cited a court case involving the DfEE during the summer. The case failed, gaining the department bad publicity. But Bichard took responsibility for the actions of his employees, who, he claimed, had taken a well-managed risk. He said, “It was crucial for me to do that in order to maintain the trust of my employees.”