There are a plethora of books written about leadership, ones that give advice on effective leadership others that discuss the methodology of leadership and those that try very hard to convince you that their way is the right way.
I have worked for many organisations in my time and I can definitely say that each leader of the organisation has been different. My first real encounter with a leader of an organisation was within a consultancy environment. The leader wanted to be friends with everyone and delegated his responsibilities to those he trusted. He was never confrontational but I felt he never stood up to injustices within the organisation and was sometimes the purpotrator of injustices and laughed them off.
Another significant leader I worked for was a tyrant. He never had a problem giving orders and ruled with an iron fist. My memory was that of an organisation that was in fear of its leader and pushed itself into oblivion. It is difficult being a consultant in that environment as you are not as affected as the permanent staff. I felt it was my duty to be supportive as best as I could in that situation by listening and advising those who needed help.
In my career journey I have myself been in leadership positions running divisions of large organisations. I never thought about neither did I read about how to be an effective leader what was always important to me was ensuring my staff felt supported and that I was delivering on organisational objectives. There is a word for that now Emotional Intelligence (EI). Although for me having Emotional Intelligence is a natural state of mind I have now come to realise that not everyone has this ability. Jacqueline Hinds Chair Society of Emotional Intelligence UK chapter believes that we need to improve the level of Emotional Intelligence within organisations to drive through employee engagement, understanding, respecting and valuing people.
Leaders play such an important part in sculpting the values of an organisation. Employees look to them to fashion behaviours within an organisation. When I hear of the lack of Equality and Diversity in an organisation I ask myself ‘what is the leader doing to improve the situation’. It is the leaders vision that employees follow and they set out the terms of engagement for the organisation. It is all well and good to suggest that HR drive a process to improve Equality and Diversity but if the leader is not championing this process then it is already dead in the water. It requires Executive Leaders, Divisional Leaders and Line Management Leaders to champion effective strategies. If it is only HR taking the lead in promoting positive strategies they will no doubt encounter blockages along the way thus causing a delay in implementation.
So what is needed? A synergised solution that allows the leader to empower themselves to drive efficiencies of people within the organisation, taking on board Emotional Intelligence, Equality and Diversity and People Power through Staff Networks. As the leader is the driving force of an organisation it has the power to disseminate these skills through the organisation posting champions through the business. There is already evidence out there that shows the benefits of improving thoughtful leadership, moreover changing the way we think about leadership to improve not only the results of an organisation but the wellbeing of is employees.
I know that the NHS is making a positive move to improve its leadership teams by tapping into a talent pool which already existed but has not been cultivated. They have taken positive steps to improve promotional prospects of BME staff by implementing a leadership and mentoring programme. The NHS has chosen to think differently about leadership and understands its important to offer a more open and inclusive approach. It is too early to know if statistics will identify any improvement in engagement of employees, wellbeing, service delivery, patient care but I feel confident that once the changes embed themselves the evidence will show that there will be a significant upturn.
Leadership is key to any organisation but it must be the right leadership. A thoughtful leader who can inspire, teach, guide and support is paramount to having a successful organisation. A disruptive leader will only create negativity, low employee engagement, poor value systems and will no doubt cause future damage to the organisations reputation. The disruptive leader may be perceived as a financial winner but at what cost? Are leaders open enough to take criticism and make the right changes to improve the structure of their organisations?
I think its tough being a leader as you have the responsibility of others and you are looked upon as the driving force but if you make the right choices when coming to leadership style you can eliminate some of the stresses that come with leadership. The approach you take will determine the outcome of not only your organisations profitability but your employees ability to succeed and develop.
About the Author
Dianne Greyson is well known HR specialist with significant organisational experience haven worked for the public and private sector for over 20 years.She has provided written advice to enquiries relating to HR issues for Personnel Today and made a contribution to Demystifying Diversity a book written by Jiten Patel and Gamiel Yafai. Dianne is also a Board Member for Certitude, a charity that supports mental and learning disabilities and a Mentor for the Stephen Lawrence Foundation.
Dianne regards herself as a Equality and Diversity Champion that seeks to improve the capabilities of organisations and make them into ‘People Champions’. She believes more effort should be made to reflect society and eradicate divisions and negative behaviours in organisations.