#CIPD14 – Overcoming Barriers to Effective Leadership throughout the Organisation

A topic I’m really interested in as I’m currently exploring this from the perspective of creating a coaching organisaiton as part of my Coaching PG Cert.

So this morning we have Alex Lewis from BAE Systems, Sarah James from Crime Reduction Initiatives and Jamie Ryan from Miller Oils (small business – yay!) and Ksenia Zheltoukhova chairing from the CIPD.

Ksenia starting off by talking about most organisations realising that leaders are seeing they need to make a shift towards leading through authenticity and relationships.  And yet, are the ecosystems of these organisations set up to support this style of leadership?

First Alex saying hello.  BAE have been involved with work CIPD have done with Uni of Bath around trust, and have been involved in the government’s taskforce around engagement.

Alex remembers when he did his CIPD quals a few years back there was a clear distinction between management and leadership.  Now, 20 years on, he believes we expct both from the same person.  Our expectations of our teams have changed too.  Apprentices now struggle with the fact that the manager’s in charge – why should they automatically get the role of running things.  They don’t assume the person who’s their boss has the right to be in charge of them.  They need to earn that by engaging their employees.

Some leaders gets this.  Some don’t.  So to be successful you first need to be clear about what you expect of leaders where you work.

Engage for Success talk about the 4 enablers of engagement – one of which is engaging managers – give people scope, treat them as individuals, coach and stretch them.  Don’t have a gap between what you say and what you do – even if the ‘doing’ is done by a different leader to the one who ‘said’ it in the first place.  It breaks trust.

This is a big ask and leaders need help to be competent and confident.

Trust is critical for effective change, encouraging innovation, continual improvement.

Work by the Uni of Bath with the CIPD has identified 4 drivers of trust –

1. Ability – they’re competent, 2. Benevolence – a concern for others and treats all team members as individuals, 3. Integrity – principles encompassing fairness and consistency, 4. Predictability – principles to work by to make it possible for staff to make their own decisions.

So, 1. Define what you expect of leaders, 2. Understand and address the key barriers – e.g. competence and confidence, 3. Integrate any change for leadership to bring it into a wider change that provides a context – this is where we’ve been this is where we are and this is where we’re going.

Now up is Sarah from CRI.  Their business operates with leaders who are capable to be autonomous to make decisions.  They created management competencies – assessed people in development centres (360 degree, competency interview, desk top exercise) and they then attended a development programme which is now ILM accredited.

As well as capability, capacity was a barrier to effective leadership – going from managing team to checking water supplies for legionaires disease.  Their CEO changed and the new one restructured the business into 3 sections under 3 directors, supported by areas of expertise e.g. bid writers.

Finally, Jamie from Millers Oils, they’ve been around for a long time and Mr Miller who started the business

Mr Miller had a very autocratic style – what Mr Miller said was what you did. But then the final Mr Miller died in the early 2000’s and the business decied they needed a change.

They introduced a management development programme but they discovered it wasn’t working. The barriers? No clear purpose, no clear values, no clear expectations of managers.

So they involved the wider business team in answering these areas. They asked lots of questions such as why do people come to work. For most people it wasn’t about self worth, it was just about getting money. And they just expected to do as they were told and to work hard, and they wanted to use their skills or intellect for the money they were given. It was the fair deal they’d always experienced with Mr Miller.

But now in today’s world, you can buy these commodities for a quarter of the price – you can go to Kuala Lumpar and easily find people who’ll work hard and do as they’re told, AND they’re also accessing education.

So to step ahead in the new world you need people to think for themselves. But staff were suspicious – Will they listen to me? Will my manager not just take the credit? If I just do as I’m told I won’t get into trouble.

They wanted people to think for themselves, come up with new ideas and get passionate about coming to work.

They focussed on the feel of the company, rather than the size of the company. Instead of deciding how much they wanted to grow by and in which markets, they thought about how they wanted it to feel to work there.

They looked at the physical aspects of how people worked to get them working together, and created opportunities to break down the ‘invisible’ barriers.

They’ve removed the role of Operations Manager so others could be involved in operations and come up with better ways of doing things – ops has improved significantly.

They’ve removed the Health & Safety Manager so others are part of the health & safety forum and take responsibility for safety, making it important to them – not just assuming that one person was doing it all.

They’ve helped the teams to see what success looks like and given them the tools to achieve that success well.

They did away with sales commission – hooray hooray!! Too many sales people make decisions for the good of their commission, not for the good of the business. They also did away with the Sales Manager. They’ve given them the tools to do their job now and they now have increased sales through a professional sales team.

They changed the development review – by asking the team what they wanted. They introduced a 360 degree system that the team designed and put in place and which is much more engaging.

They asked the teams what target they would set for the year. The targets the team members set were higher than the managers would have done, and when they meet challenges they come and ask for help.

Of course they’ve met barriers in this change, and they’re all learning. They’ve used CIPD research and have recognised that they’re not the only ones who are experiencing these challenges – which is helpful to know.

Some of the barriers –

  • A lack of willingness to believe in others
  • Managers not willing to let go and create an environment of coaching and empowerment to innovate – it’s a tough balance between using your expertise (which got you promoted to manager) and enabling others to participate, rather than dominating the conversation with your expertise
  • Cynicism from those used to ‘them and us’ – management will do anything to get one over on us, they don’t care about us workers
  • Some people don’t want to think for themselves – but when they start it they find they enjoy it and then want to do it more
  • Lack of patience – the early adopters of change struggle to understand why others haven’t and they can lose faith. Part of a leaders role is to coach these people to be tolerant of those who haven’t quite got it yet to keep the early adopters on board.

And so their journey continues. With the pace of change, the board at Millers recognise that they need everyone involved or else they can’t keep up. The board can’t do this on their own, and wouldn’t want to because it doesn’t get the best results.

Q – what’s the ONE thing that makes the difference with overcoming barriers – you need to give people a reason why – and ideally you create that reason why together by bringing the context everyone sees together in one place.  CRI found they already had the Why but they needed to create capacity for leaders to lead.

Q – have any gender specific interventions been put in place to support leaders? – Millers were under utilising the people available to them in the past and haven’t done anything specific to encourage women but interesting that a lot of the leaders of the future are women. CRI also haven’t done anything specific and although their exec is male, the level below that is predominantly female.

I believe in people being the key to success in a business and that success is unlocked by great bosses. I’m an Executive Coach for SME leaders to help create success for you, for your team, for your business.

Get in touch for a chat if you believe in this stuff too and you want your business to be even better – helen.amery@wildfigsolutions.co.uk
or take a look at my website to find out more http://www.wildfigsolutions.co.uk

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