Why Improve Your Leadership Skills?
The UK currently has approximately 2.5m accidental and unskilled managers, promoted into leadership roles because of their functional expertise but left to sink or swim when it comes to management. As a result, poor people management has been calculated to cost the UK economy £84bn a year.
The ONS studied just under 10,000 employers last year, scoring their leadership techniques out of 10 based on a number of criteria. They concluded that a shift in score of just 0.1 was associated with a 9.6% shift in productivity.
To further back this up, recent research by the Hodge Foundation and Cardiff Metropolitan University finds that: “Many firms exhibit poor strategic planning and have very rudimentary management systems in place to measure and control performance.”
Research by CMI (Chartered Institute of Management) also found that leaders that are qualified or chartered on average earn an extra £152,000 over their career and deliver an average of £362,176 in added value to their organisations.
Types of Leadership
There are many different leadership styles and you may naturally gravitate towards one type. However, it’s less about sticking to one style, and more about using a range of styles depending on the situation and type of organisation.
There are plenty of models and leadership theory you can explore and read up on, but this model by Daniel Goleman in the Harvard Business Review focuses on results and flexibility, not personality. It encourages you to develop and use new leadership styles over time – blending styles to adapt to different situations.
Identifying the gaps and improving your leadership skills is essential to achieving better results and creating more productive businesses.
The Visionary Leader
The Visionary Leader says: “Come with me”
This is used when they need to show the big picture, inspire a new direction and change and needs to show people that what they are doing really matters.
This is avoided when the vision is very far removed from the day to day reality and employees can’t relate it to their roles. It may be that a certain amount of expertise is required to understand the vision.
Balance it with showing people the concrete benefits of the vision and what’s in it for them and their roles in the organisation.
The Coaching Leader
The Coaching Leader says: “Try this”
This is used when they need to help an employee improve performance over time, develop them into a new role or pass on important expertise.
This is avoided when they need a quick result or don’t have the time to invest or when staff aren’t ready to work on their weaknesses.
Balance it with other leadership styles that are more performance-related, don’t require as much time or don’t require such equal commitment from employees.
The Bonding Leader
The Bonding Leader says: “People come first”
This is used when they need to create harmony, repair broken trust, reduce friction and build relationships between people.
This is avoided if performance is mediocre, praise isn’t generally merited, or people are suffering from an overall lack of direction and motivation.
Balance it with the visionary leadership model, communicating a clear vision and giving people achievable targets and constructive advice, as well as general praise.
The Democratic Leader
The Democratic Leader says: “What do you think?”
This is used when they need to build trust and get buy-in on a difficult subject to forge consensus among multiple stakeholders.
This is avoided if people don’t have the skills or knowledge to make the decisions, or if consensus isn’t being reached after endless meetings.
Balance it with adding clarity to people’s roles and responsibilities and building smaller decision support teams.
The Pace-setting Leader
The Pace-setting Leader says: “Do exactly what I’m doing”
This is used when they need to set very high standards and get quick results from a self-motivated or highly skilled team.
This is avoided if they find themselves using it too much, too often, or with every employee, as it can be very demotivating.
Balance it with other leadership styles such as the democratic, visionary and coaching style. Listening more, asking questions and helping people make their own decisions.
The Commanding Leader
The Commanding Leader says: “My way or the highway”
This is used when as a last resort when all else is failed. It’s the only way to get immediate compliance and often used in a crisis or emergency or to manage toxic employees
This is avoided if it’s not a real crisis and if they haven’t tried other approaches first.
Balance it with more nurturing and morale-boosting measures that won’t threaten morale or creativity such as the first four styles mentioned above.
Research shows that leaders who can master the first four styles (Visionary, Bonding, Democratic and Coaching) have the greatest impact on staff motivation and business performance. The last two (Pacesetting and Commanding) definitely have their place but are not as useful.
How To Improve Your Leadership Skills
The best way to improve your leadership skills is to set aside time for an appropriate leadership course in your area.
Courses that offer a degree of face to face and group learning with a structured day release programme are more beneficial. Not only can you learn from fellow managers, but you will have time away from your work situation, allowing you to reflect more easily and see the bigger picture.
The 20Twenty programme studies a range of leadership techniques and tools that apply directly to your department or business. This includes managing change, motivating high performing teams, fostering innovation and dealing with difficult employees/resolving conflict.
The programme is an excellent way to not only improve your leadership skills for the future but to embrace change, stimulate growth, and plan for different eventualities in your business.
It’s supported by the European Social Fund through the Welsh Government. Benefiting from 60% EU subsidy to cover the cost of the programme.
Flexible delivery methods are available, which vary from 7 to 15 days distributed over a period 4 to 10 months.