Has the role and context of leadership changed over the last few decades and if so, in what ways?
Leadership fundamentals continue to be tweaked and challenged, however ultimately the base requirements for effective leadership remain the same. The environment and cultures within which we lead continue to evolve also. Technology, systems, the global nature of work and various other changes to the modern work world all influence the inputs required and outputs gained from leadership and the capabilities most employers and employees are looking for.
I recently read with interest two articles in the July edition of the Financial Review – Boss magazine titled, ‘The New Employer-Employee Contract’ and ‘Crisis in Business Leadership’.
For most of the 20th century the compact between employers and employees was based on loyalty. That is now gone, replaced…by a transactional laissez-faire approach that serves neither party well. A workable new compact must recognise that jobs are unlikely to be permanent but should encourage lasting alliances nonetheless. The key is that both the employer and employee seek to add value to each other. Employees invest in the company’s adaptability; the company invests in employees’ employability. Three simple policies can make this new compact tangible. They are: hiring employees for explicit ‘tours of duty’; encouraging employees to build networks and expertise outside the organisation and establishing active alumni networks to maintain career-long relationships.
A recent study demonstrates the inherent risks and current state of leadership. The propensity for ‘people in charge’ to be focusing on the traditional management requirements for their roles as opposed to leadership continue to be an issue. The opportunities for smaller businesses to develop a point of difference through leadership flexibility and agility based on reduced bureaucracy and opportunity to act and react more quickly is highlighted. Additionally, there is a clear delineation in a view of the organisations ability and willingness to dedicate time, funding and energy to leadership development, depending on the level of the business an individual works within.
The verdict from the University of Sydney’s and Boss’s second survey of executives is that our workplaces also suffer a failure of leadership; at least from the perspective of senior managers.
We interviewed members of The Financial Review Business Leaders panel and 137 mid-level and senior manager completed an online survey. Those in middle management ranks are more optimistic about the way organisations are run. But a quarter of senior business executives warn that their companies are being over-managed and under-led. Just over 5 per cent think that developing good leaders is something their company takes seriously. Only 11 per cent believe their business excels at identifying future leaders, according to research.
Too much focus on management – not leadership
“We focus, as people come up through their careers, on their management ability – are they able to drive a profit or run [the business] most efficiently – rather than leadership,” Lord says. “Management skills aren’t as important because you can build the right team around you.”
The overwhelming feedback was that companies’ “management systems reward financial performance rather than leadership skills”. The clear message is for more “time and recognition” to be dedicated to developing leadership experience.
Results and data from the survey also found:
- Crisis in Business Leadership: Financial Review, Boss Magazine
- Ladies and Gentleman, The Amazing Leadership Magician! (weleadwefollow.wordpress.com)
- How Leadership Can Encourage Team Collaboration & Creativity (business2community.com)