Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

The UK needs to invest in better managers

Industry viewpoint by Lisa Wynn, director and executive coach at Corporate Potential

Industry viewpoint by Lisa Wynn, director and executive coach at Corporate Potential

Research released last week from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI)[i] has indicated that there is a severe lack of leadership talent in UK organisations. With only 14 per cent of UK bosses believing they are a ‘born leader’ and a mere 14 per cent excelling at people management skills, this proves a sorry state of affairs for the future of home grown UK leaders.

Given that we are currently struggling with the ‘are we or aren’t we out of the recession?’ question, it is concerning that so few managers in UK believe that they do not feel confident or qualified enough to lead us into the upturn. However, I believe that simply spending more money on leadership development training is not necessarily the great investment it may first seem. For too long the limited training budgets of most UK businesses have been spent on leadership development programmes, which in reality stand little chance of impacting the bottom line.

Whilst it is hard to demonstrate a true return on investment from such programmes we can start by looking hard at the design and implementation of the programmes, which can help to ensure that a sustainable change in leadership is encouraged in the future, which makes a real impact. To do this I believe that some big questions need to be asked:

· Start with business drivers –

“What are the current challenges and aspirations that we want to impact?”

· Be prepared to examine the business’ culture –

“What is the culture of leadership that is required in order to achieve business targets over the next five years?”

· Look to underpin the change with real development rather than just more of the same training –

“What do we need to do differently in order to get exponentially different results?”

· Plan to really invest, not just spend –

“If we were to deliver on the business driver how would it impact the bottom line?”

“What percentage of that impact are we prepared to invest?”

How will we know looking back that this was a fantastic investment, rather than just another training and development initiative?”

To really deliver a new breed of manger to UK organisations, fit for the challenges and opportunities that an economic upturn has to offer, companies must be prepared to change tack. They must understand what is required of their culture to develop potential and maximise performance, but also to support individual managers. Each manager, along with potential talent pool members, needs to be supported to understand and appreciate their own strengths and opportunities to facilitate personal growth.

UK organisations need to support and challenge managers to start asking bigger and better questions of themselves and this needs to start at the very top.

[i] Chartered Management Institute (CMI), UK management survey of 2,158 managers, August 2010.