Are you a leader or a manager?


Do you understand how to think strategically, oversee change and or manage a diverse team in an innovative and collaboratively way?

If you have not explicitly sought out training or other development opportunities around leadership skills, the chances are you do not. There are very few natural born leaders. Managers who step up to lead understand influence and know how to get the best out of people. To do this, they tend to use specific psychological tools and techniques to ensure they not only listen to their team but also communicate well to minimise the risk of failure.

Our Getting to the C-Suite programme brings together the current best practice leadership thinking, both for those looking to accelerate their executive career but also to enhance their impact as a non-executive leader. Find out more. 

The impact of failing to invest in leadership capacity is stark. A few weeks ago I read a brilliant article by Phillip Inman on 'Why are so many UK businesses just barely managing to get by?'  Inman's article is about some analysis undertaken by the Bank of England last year which pulled together research on productivity and specifically some work undertaken by Jonathan Haskel. Haskel is a member of the the UK's interest-rate-setting monetary policy committee.

According to Inman 'Haskel found that foreign-owned companies (in the UK) were not only a source of well-paid, productive jobs, they were also a source of expertise that rubbed off on British-owned firms. Think of Arsène Wenger’s Arsenal in the 1990s and the influence it had on the Premier League'.

Today, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), one in four large businesses in the UK (with more than 250 employees) are foreign owned. These are companies like Siemens, Nissan, JP Morgan and Nestlé.  In his article Inman concludes that without foreign companies in the mix, UK businesses stand to be hopelessly outclassed by firms located abroad that are better managed and better resourced. According to Inman the words that sums up foreign companies approach to business are, “process” and “structure”.

Sadly, I totally agree with Inman. Both these words come under the heading of management and good management rarely happens without thought and effort.

To do well today companies and management need to be constantly learning and be able to collaborate across their company in the most efficient ways possible. As stated above I believe that good managers are rarely born. The best tend to read constantly, in a bid to search for the most up-to-date critiques of business practice, as they strive to innovate and improve themselves. They know business leadership can be taught and learnt, so invest in their own capabilities. 

So if you want to fast track your leadership knowledge then do consider participating in our leadership courses - either as a full programme participant, attending 6 half-day modules, or by selecting one or two of the individual modules to help you tackle specific challenges.

Interestingly, Inman points to another ONS study which cited research that found a positive link between structured management practices and the performance of firms. It seems that in the UK family-owned businesses, which make up 64% of manufacturing firms, performed especially badly. Productivity amoung these companies was 20% lower than their German counterparts. Many of the companies in question were third and fourth generation firms who are more likely to be concerned with their reputation and legacy, as opposed to innovation. They refuse, for example, to pay their workers fairly for their productivity, often as their family fight for a share of the pie. In doing so they fail to manage both under-performing and outperforming workers appropriately to maximise growth opportunities.

So what ever you do in 2019, invest in yourself and your capacity as a leader. Of course, there are many ways to stay up-to-date with current best practice so that you can step up effectively and lead. Read the stories of 3 women who chose to invest in themselves with our Getting to the C-Suite Programme:

Find out more about Women on Boards' Leadership Programme.