Jo Geraghty


Barriers to leadership

Date added: 02nd May 2014
Category: Leadership

A report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has thrown up some interesting insights into the problems of modern leadership.  Addressing the notion that deficits in ‘visible leadership’ are mainly down to the lack of individual capabilities, the CIPD report concludes that even where individuals have the required capability “their ability to put this into practice can be affected by the surrounding context, including external circumstances and informal aspects of the work environment and culture.”

Put simply, rigid organisational hierarchies and poor cultures hinder the ability of leaders to lead at all levels throughout the organisation.  As a result the CIPD is calling on organisations to rethink their leadership training by focusing first on the structure of the organisation and on defining what the organisation requires of its leaders.

External pressures, pace of change, global consumer choices, workplace diversity and a move to collaborative working can all shape the leadership mix with an increasing emphasis on leadership at all levels of an organisation, rather than just at the top.  This, the CIPD says, leads to four main barriers to leadership; namely:

  • Hierarchy and bureaucracy,
  • Short-term, bottom-line focus
  • Individualism
  • ‘Us’ and ‘them’ mentality

To address this the CIPD report recommends three key steps:

  1. Define the leadership and management you need and where an intervention is appropriate
  2. Understand the psychological and social barriers to the leadership and management your organisation needs
  3. Identify and influence the key players with the power to change the status quo



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