Derek Bishop


The future of Management and leadership

Date added: 10th Sep 2014
Category: Leadership

Meeting the demands of the post-recessionary world requires leaders who are customer and outcome focussed and who can reset organisational cultures and engage employees in fresh ways of working

The UK may be at the forefront of the world’s recovery but how are we when it comes to preparing for long term sustainability and growth?  Sadly the report says ‘has potential but could do better.’  We’ve previously commented on the way in which productivity seems to be running well below expectations and now a report from “The Commission on the Future of Management and Leadership” has revealed a significant shortfall in the way in which our businesses are lead.

Having rated UK organisations across eighteen measures, the average score of 5.9 out of 10 suggests that there is some scope for improvement across the board.  As one would expect organisations which are in a growth phase scored higher than those in decline but even within growing organisations the Commission says there remains room to improve.

The Commission was set up in 2013 on the back of a decision by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Management (APPGM) to investigate how management and leadership in the UK will need to change by 2020 to deliver sustainable economic growth.  Formed in conjunction with The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) the Commission called on the services of a wide range of academicians and business leaders.  Their report was published in July 2014.

The post recessionary world is very different one to that which went before, yet the findings reported by the Commission would tend to suggest that either businesses are still fire fighting to the exclusion of all else or that they have slipped back into a business as usual mentality which owes little to the creation of a strong future.  The rise of social media, the availability of on-line solutions, the demands of generation Y and millennial consumers and employees; all point to a very different business model which is agile, innovative and customer focussed.

Meeting this demand requires leaders who are customer and outcome focussed and who can reset organisational cultures and engage employees in fresh ways of working.  But if the Commission’s report is anything to go by, many of our leaders are simply not equipped with the tools required to create the future.  Key findings from the report include:

  • Forty-three per cent of UK line managers rate their own managers as ineffective
  • Four-fifths of workers don’t think their manager sets a good moral example
  • Two-thirds (71%) of employers give either no training or inadequate training to new managers

Given these findings it is scarcely surprising that employees remain disengaged. Management is not, and never should have been, the next automatic step up on the ladder.  To be an outstanding leader requires training and development in personal, visionary and communication skills not the ability to read a balance sheet and dictate targets.  The fact that less than one fifth of employees are aware of their organisation’s values says much about the way in which management is still seen as a ‘closed shop’ whose inhabitants prefer to keep secrets rather than act as true leaders of a team.

The trouble is that the further we move away from the recession, the more the gaps in training and outlook will show.  Customers are already demanding a shift in outlook.  Ethics, sustainability and outstanding customer experiences are now the name of the game.  Meeting the demands of a Generation Y and beyond workforce requires a shift towards flexible working patterns with an eye to a strong work-life balance.  To meet these challenges leaders have to be trained to embrace a more agile innovative outlook; in other words to learn to lead rather than to dictate.  As the Commission report says, “Future leaders need to be agile, authentic, sustainable and talented.” The Commission’s review has shown us to be wanting.  Now is the time to act.

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