The latest idea for filling the skills vacuum at the top of UK plc is the creation of a blueprint to guide leaders in defining and developing their roles.
The initiative was launched at a conference organised by the Institute of Leadership & Management in October.
Dee Waite, the institute’s director of development, said it will involve an interactive website with around 18 sections on themes most relevant to leadership. They will include developing the leader within, the leadership economy and developing a leadership culture.
“It’s not prescriptive – it’s presenting a menu of choices,” said Waite. “You choose things you have an appetite for, such as talent management for example, and you can look at the case studies and interviews from other organisations about how they’re finding success, and apply that to your organisation.”
However, management psychologist Robert Kovach warned against the wholesale assimilation of models taken from other cultures and contexts, as it may lead to difficulties.
“If you think of business versus political and governmental leadership, it would be like taking David Beckham and putting him in the Chicago Bulls,” said Kovach. “He’s a strong athlete, but in a different game, a different context.
“It’s the same with the basic principles of leadership. The danger is we see something that works in one situation, and [then] put it in another for which it wasn’t designed.”
Succession planning is a top priority for UK businesses, said Kovach. Smart organisations are investing energy in identifying high-potential individuals and developing them for future leadership roles.
The ongoing development will inform the institute’s strategy for the future, said Waite.
This month, the institute will broadcast a leadership debate between high-profile leaders from a wide variety of backgrounds, including Donald Trump, Mikhail Gorbachev and Ken Blanchard. Such distinguished leaders can seem out-of-reach to the ordinary, mainstream manager or leader, said Waite, but they can still provide inspiration for the shop floor.
“The people who manage the factory unit or new business are the people we’ve got to inspire to be great leaders because they’ll be making a huge impact on profits,” he said.
For details of the ILM’s blueprint, go to www.leadership-2004.com