founder of naked leader

Encouragement and Support

Naked Leader Week – 69 – Monday 23 August 2004

Do you feel there is sufficient encouragement and support within organisations for people looking to advance into senior positions? Why?

It varies company to company – in the next business age such motivation will become more widespread because we will replace job descriptions with “people descriptions” or ongoing CVs, because organisational charts will reflect accountability not status, because we will recruit on the basis of personal skills rather than technical skills, and because people will know that their true value lies within them, not in some job they happen to be doing at the moment – this will make senior managers and leaders less threatened about identifying a successor who is ready, and more talented than they are.

Do you believe that HR has a perceived role in the development of leaders? If yes, what role? If not, why not?

Absolutely – the role of HR in the future is as a facilitator of talent. There are plenty of skills, energy and potential around, and most of it sits untapped inside organisations. HR’s main focus has to be in the release of that by giving access to the most relevant, practical and fast-track leadership learning available – learning designed to help release potential that people already have, rather than pretending to provide the answers to what people have “missing” – people have nothing “missing.”

Many surveys pinpoint poor communication in today’s leaders. Why is communication poor? Are they not utilising technology? Are HR and comms departments letting them down? Is it some thing leaders have not bought into? Why?

“Communication” is one of the most over used and misunderstood words in our language. Ask anyone what one thing their organisation could improve and they will likely say “communication.” The challenges and answers are two-fold, One – it means different things to different people (so when people say “communication” we must ask them what they mean and what they would do to transform it). Two – The power of communication is how the message is received, not in how it is delivered. So we need to reverse how we communicate. I n my view a company is communicating well if everyone in that organisation knows who and where to go, to find something out, and they can do it without fear or favour. That may be in person, by phone or online. Intranets need to be transformed beyond merely providing information, as well.

Do you believe organisational culture has an impact on the number of women applying for senior roles? If yes how can this be changed – if it needs to be – and if no, why are there so few female leaders in the UK?

Ah – the other misused word – “culture” – to me culture = people, so if women are not applying for senior roles, that is because of the actions, decisions or behaviour of key people in an organisation. We know from the press the hidden reasons so few women are promoted – other priorities for them, costs of maternity leave etc. However, and this is a man speaking here, we must, we have to, promote and encourage more women to senior positions, because the skills we need in our organisations in the next business age come more naturally to women – listening, trust, empathy, interpersonal. The good news is I believe this will happen naturally as Boards realise that the old macho image of companies is dying.

If there were significantly more women in leadership positions do you think organisations would fare better than in the current status quo and become better performers? Why?

Yes, because they would care more – for their customers, for their people, for corporate and social responsibility and for our world. And in this next business age this is absolutely critical and customers / shareholders will make decisions depending on it – purpose, accountability and reputation.

Previous research has indicated that men and women reveal leadership traits in different ways. Should organisations utilise a separate leadership model to identify the traits of both male and female leaders?  Why and how (briefly)?

No – because we already know the differences. All leadership training must be about helping people to release their strengths and natural gifts and talent – to be the very best that they already are.

What is your advice to someone at the lower level of management looking to push upwards but being thwarted by poor process, people management and culture?

What an opportunity for advancement! The best piece of career advice I ever received was work in an organisation in chaos. My advice here is develop your own self confidence, know the power you have within you, and then go for it. This will mean transforming the culture, and challenging many people. If you don’t do it, it may never get done and the company may go under. And you will be surprised to see how many people have felt the same way you have done, but never dared to do anything about it!

With peace to you all



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