Leading the change

added by Craig Steel
Workgroup standing round a table listening to a manager

As organisations ready themselves for life after lockdown, their ability to drive the changes they need to excel in the future will come down to the leadership their managers provide.

As we know, leading people is more than overseeing workloads and managing timesheets. Fundamentally, it’s about enabling people to deliver the outcomes our organisation is promising.

Not surprisingly, some organisations, despite their sector, have fared better than others. Further to this, some teams have delivered over and above what their counterparts have done and what their employer expected. Although there will no doubt be differences between them, the common denominator is likely to come down to leadership.

The fact is, businesses need to leverage their leadership cohort if they are to navigate the challenges ahead.  In particular, executives have to understand their line managers are there to represent them rather than the people who report to them.

Despite the proliferation of commentary on this subject, the vast majority of leaders still believe their job is to supervise their subordinates rather than enable them to deliver the outcomes the business is after.

To correct this issue, it is vital those at the helm accept their organisation’s ability to change will be governed by the leadership skills of those in management positions.

Given the importance of leadership in the post-COVID world we’re about to enter has risen dramatically, understanding how to assess it will be critical. To assess the effectiveness of your managers, I recommend you reflect on the following questions:

  • How much more aware of your aspirations as a business are their people today than they were at the start of the year?
  • How much more committed to your strategy are their people today in comparison to where they were?
  • How much more supportive of the organisation are their people today than they were back then?
  • What additional value are their people adding to the organisation or your stakeholders today in comparison to what they were delivering last year?
  • How much more productive or effective are their people today than they were before?
  • What additional skills have their people developed in the past six months and why is it relevant to the business?
  • What additional knowledge have their people acquired since Christmas and how will it take your organisation forward?
  • How much happier are their people (in their jobs) today than they were before?
  • How much more supportive of other parts of the business are their people today than they were back then?
  • And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, to what extent have their people changed or grown in the past three months and how is that (their growth) relevant to the business?

The reason these questions are important is not because your staff, i.e. ‘their’ people have a role to play in your company’s future, it’s because their attitude and behaviour will determine the state of your business in the future.

If your managers understand the response you observe in their people will be seen as a reflection of their leadership rather than simply the behaviour of the individuals involved, the more likely they will be to fulfil their role.

However, if they think it’s an unfair or unrealistic expectation, they’ve either misinterpreted the purpose of leadership or they’ve come to believe they can’t change their people so have defaulted to managing them instead.

To support their development, I suggest you ask them to reflect on the impact they’re having on their people so they understand their success as a leader will come down to the change they bring about in them rather than how they manage them as a workgroup.  


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