The third of 8 "key themes" for driving sustainable organisational performance identified in the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) report "Sustainable Organisational Performance: What Really Makes the Difference" is leadership.
In another glorious example of apple-pie motherhood the report claims:-
- Visible leadership and communication is a must in difficult times;
- Line managers need to take an active role in coaching and providing encouragement;
- Line managers can help with sense-making;
- Leaders need to empower others but set key principles and parameters to ensure greater consistency of empowerment;
- Leaders need to develop a collaborative decision making style;
- Leadership skills are needed at all levels.
Of course all this is true, but I am sorry: I do not see anything here that a manager worth his salt doesn't already know and try to put into practice. There is certainly nothing in here that tells you how to shape a better future.
After all it is obvious that the pace of change and the increasingly competitive nature of operating have the effect of pushing decisions down the line. It is impossible for decision making to reside in the hands of a select few in the way it once did. So it is inevitable that there is a need for collective or distributed leadership throughout the organisation. And it is equally obvious that you cannot achieve this if your employees are not engaged.
This is why employee engagement is the issue of the moment. Yet, for all this demand for leadership and the call for "employee empowerment" there is nothing is this report that tells you how to inspire it. This is THE management challenge of our times. You have to crack this one if you are to help shape the future rather than be shaped by the future. Yet there is nothing in this report to help you past the starting line.
The Zealise system of accounting for people as assets and its concomitant model of universal employee ownership offers you a better foundation than anything in this report. Recognising and valuing people for the contribution they make is a great way to systematise empowerment and thereby to stimulate the distributed leadership you are seeking. Especially in conjunction with the shared purpose it creates and that we looked at previously.
If you really want to shape the future you at least owe it to yourself to explore this model for creating collective leadership and how it might work for you