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Let’s add value to leadership skills

first_img Comments are closed. Let’s add value to leadership skillsOn 9 May 2000 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Business success is reliant on leaders gaining a philosophical edge tofoster good staff relations, argues Jo ParkerWith the “balance of power” set to swing back towards employees, courtesy ofEurope and the Labour Government, employers need managers in place who can meetthe new workplace relations, without taking a defensive stance and ensuringthey are of benefit to the business as well as employees.Many employees have had to adapt to the flexible labour market and behave asif they are “in business for themselves”, acquiring the relevantacumen and confidence as their skills portfolios have grown. Unions too arechanging their profile in preparation for working in “partnership”with employers and are intent on becoming more business-focused in theirapproach to employee relations.At the same time, managers seem to have fallen behind in personaldevelopment. As one HR consultant puts it, “They start off well but soonfind themselves locked into stressful, hierarchical ladder climbing whichcompromises their integrity.” Any initial enthusiasm for the job is soon replaced by an unbalanced focuson self-interest which ensures the short-term mind set of senior managementhears what it wants to hear. Meanwhile, beneath middle management level,respect from increasingly sophisticated subordinates may be negligible; labourturnover and recruitment costs high – with employees staying only long enoughto make it worth their while; and workplace relations poor with a growingdivision between managers and those they aim to manage. For employers with long-term vision, this isolating division is ultimatelydamaging to the business. But who is to blame? Is it possible for middlemanagers to demonstrate anything other than a survival instinct to”process manage” when they have to work under such conflictingexpectations from above and below? The Roffey Park Management agenda, Learning Through Shared Experience,published earlier this year, showed that managers have become increasinglycynical as they realise espoused organisational values do not match the valuesdictated from superiors. Dismissive management styles easily become the norm for junior managers tomimic, causing workplace relations to suffer with the consequential loss ofcompetitive advantage.The solution is simple but hard to accept because it does not involve theimplementation of yet another involvement scheme. It is managers themselves –not employees – who need to work differently. For the majority of employers whoat least appreciate the equation of business success in relation to involvingand treating employees as a valued resource, it is time to pay more than lipservice to “paper values”.Managers who are capable of contributing to the organisation’s growth needto be developed with the right type of “philosophical” leadershipskills which give them the confidence to be themselves and work”with” rather than “react to” subordinates and superiors. With the emerging HR interest in “spirituality at work”, thehistorical development of societal behaviour facilitated by the employmentcontract is being questioned. Individuals in a position to make a difference must start to realise that theacquirement of managerial status at work does not give them rights to indulgein bullying behaviour and encourage inequality. They have instead theresponsibility to create a collaborative, productive working environment whichenables staff to retain their dignity and contribute positively. Senior managers also need to be seen to actively encourage this behaviour,rather than merely signing a piece of paper to endorse their approval. Ifmanagers cannot keep up with the changes that employees and unions areundergoing, new-style unions could well evolve to fill the gaps, and the skillsnecessary to maintain success will become increasingly hard to come by. Unless corporate values genuinely allow middle managers to demonstrate thepersonal credibility necessary to foster good working relations, they willcontinue to become self-sufficient only at surviving in the organisationalmelee at the expense of long-term corporate success. Jo Parker is an employment law consultant at Pharos Learning Previous Article Next Articlelast_img

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