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So Who is a Good Leader?

“Leaders have to take their followers with them and vary their style to suit the different situations they face.” Duncan Brown

In this Podcast, the Leadership concept is explored. It looks at the role of HR in finding and or building leaders of today and the future. Rajan Datar leads the discussion and interviews a good number of Business Leaders who share their experiences and thoughts on Leadership.It takes a lot to lead an organization properly and it takes even more to be able to deal with the shortage of leadership today.

This write-up gives an overview of why Leadership is a very important issue for companies today and how HR can nurture and develop it.

Duncan Brown (Assistant Director General of CIPD) presents Leadership as a big issue not only for HR but for everyone. People continue to analyze the concept today just like they did centuries ago and to date no universally accepted model of leadership has been identified. I remember reading in history about good and bad leaders. Today I still talk about good and bad leaders. In the news we hear day in day out about how Political, Religious and Corporate Leaders are being boxed in a corner. He goes further to explain that many companies are confronted with three burning questions.

1. The ‘why’ question – Why does the organization exist?

2. The ‘what’ question – The resources, systems and skills needed to achieve the mission

3. The ‘who’ question – who are the leaders we need to meet this goal, how do we develop and keep them?

According to Jim Harrogate (American business consultant, author, and lecturer on the subject of company sustainability) the ‘who’ question remains the most important. And this remains a critical part of HRs job, finding, developing and keeping the individuals who shall lead the business to success.

Being an old concept, it may be good to know what has changed about leadership as per yesteryears. Well, the concept has not withered. Why? Because as we strive to get the best form, we sustain it. Today, Leadership has moved from the kick-butt, top-down leader/manager style of the 1980s and 90s to a more consensual, context driven, culturally aware and more participative method.

So who is a good leader? Gareth Jones and Adrian Moorhouse (Gold Winning Olympic Medalist and now MD of Lane Four) summarize as follows: Charismatic, visionary, Someone who is not at the centre of every decision scenario, Open minded and communicates with his team as per their duties, Authentic role player (can adapt and play different roles when confronted with different situations). In one sentence, “Someone who inspires people and creates something compelling enough for people to follow him.”

Baroness Susan Greenfield (Director of the Royal Institute) orients the debate. To her Leadership is very simple, “To lead you must have the respect and confidence of people, believe in what you are doing and finally transmit your passion and excitement to others.

It may therefore seem easy for HR to find such people. No, it is a daunting task Why? Simply because many Leaders have not developed that clear vision captivating enough for others to follow. Secondly, Leaders do not want to be open-minded, they believe they have everything figured out and tend to isolate proposals from collaborators.

With this in mind, the million dollar question that concerns us all comes up. How can HR develop leaders? Well Duncan tells us there is no magic, no universal formula for leadership or leadership development. The concept should be incorporated in an organization’s culture. To me, the best answer is – Training, Development and Succession planning. Providing people within the Business with development opportunities that create positive leadership change.

There is certainly plenty of food for thought about how leaders can be developed and retained. Of course Leadership is not something you can bottle and distribute with the payslips but it certainly sounds like there is a role for HR in developing business leaders.

I respect those who say “leaders are born” but I strongly believe leaders are “made”. Adequate training and development performs that magic.

  1. July 19, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Leadership is definitely an art which can be learnt, but it is only for people who have a burning desire to achieve a mastery of the art. It is a long a winding road with pitfalls galore on the way and easy to give up on without the right attitude and behaviour traits.

  2. Kibonen Nfi
    July 19, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Thumbs up! Leadership can definitely be learned. JCI Tells us that. Nice one

  3. July 21, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    so interesting, thanks for sharing

  4. August 8, 2011 at 9:24 am

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  5. August 8, 2011 at 9:24 am

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