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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Leading for the future breakfast briefing, London, UK, 29 September 2011
Article Type: Resources From: Strategic HR Review, Volume 11, Issue 2
Michael HuttBusiness manager at the Engage Group.
Engage Group, UK consultancy specializing in end-to-end employee and stakeholder engagement, held this breakfast briefing to discuss the importance of engaging leadership in current times. The main driving factor was how present models of leadership can feel outdated given the economic conditions of the past few years. Dr Andy Brown, a leadership and organizational transformation expert and senior partner at Engage Group, hosted the session, which was attended by HR directors and employee engagement managers from a wide variety of organizations.
The briefing indicated that among the plethora of issues affecting organizations currently, the impact that senior leadership teams, as well as managerial effectiveness at all levels within the business, has on employee engagement is increasing rapidly.
The importance of context
There was a large focus on the importance of industry and organizational context; it is becoming more and more apparent that different sectors have experienced different changes throughout the current economic difficulties. These changes now have to be dealt with in more and more unique ways with regard to leadership models.
Case studies from the retail and financial sectors were used to highlight both the similarities in approach as well as the difference in the design and implementation of engaging leader programs, highlighting how a base tool kit and cross industry experience allow a flexible and bespoke approach.
Clarity and consistency required
The group discussed the importance of having a clear and consistent vision within the organization that is lived, visibly, by managers and leaders across the organization. It seems to be more widely accepted that engagement isn’t just a one off event with a resultant “engagement score” but a way of driving business objectives on a day-to-day basis through an understanding that these objectives are the responsibility of all concerned, starting with leaders.
When asked how engaging leaders within their business were, attendees gave very mixed views. In some organizations leaders do not ask questions; they are afraid not to know all the answers and fearful of engaging in open dialogue with their employees. In others, there was no benchmark of what an effective, engaged leader looks like, and where this did exist, senior leaders were not necessarily measured against the same core behaviors as more mid-level leaders.
An ongoing issue
The debate stimulated a lot of food for thought in the room, with three topics standing out: How can organizations create tailored models of leadership for their own unique challenges, making sure they are aligned with strategic objectives? How can they capture best practice in leadership and roll it out across the organization? How can they ensure they have better data against which to measure leadership behaviors?
Meanwhile, one unquestionable stance was taken by all participants: Can you afford, in the current climate, to have dis-engaging leaders?