Changing leadership mindsets
In my view the recent debates about the “crisis in capitalism” miss the point, the implementation of capitalism and its impact on organisations, society and individuals is directly driven by the decisions of political and organisational leaders not some mystical entity. Thus the issue isn’t with capitalism it’s with the leaders that implement it and how they do so – either effectively with ethics and integrity or not. But leadership isn’t just an issue for CEOs, Prime Ministers and NGOs, the shortfall in both leadership skills and behaviour is pervasive everywhere.
Recent data from the Chartered Management Institute in their Management 2020 initiative suggests only 40% of leaders in UK organisations are being effectively developed. A similar picture exists in relation to talent from CIPD and other sources. In 1999 when I was on a Government expert panel considering the same problem only 30% were being developed. So in 14 years we have managed only a slightly pathetic 10% improvement.
What this means in practice is that for a majority of leaders in organisations the “basics”: e.g. effective task planning and management, are not in place. As a result firefighting becomes common practice leading to highly ineffective delivery and almost total loss of long term perspectives. Then the more complex activity that’s piled on top the worse the situation gets. Hardly surprising then that in comparison to European peers, G7 and many G20 countries UK lags behind in leadership development and consequently productivity. If we had better leaders at all levels in organisations it could increase UK GDP by maybe £65bn, benefitting us all. It also means that literally millions of people stand no real chance of ever realising their full potential at work and having rewarding lives as a result.
So there is an organisational, social and individual imperative to improve leadership. There certainly isn’t any lack of evidence that good leadership produces high performance which produces organisational success and economic growth. Thus the problem isn’t it doesn’t work so it must either be the message isn’t getting through or the implementation is ineffective or a combination. Leadership isn’t rocket science. Organisations have objectives, people have needs and aspirations, leaders just align the two.