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Stephen Archer

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Leadership: New thinking and inevitable change


There is no doubt that that the values of effective leadership are changing. Stephen Archer makes a few predictions.
The idea that leadership by default should be a centrist notion is already widely challenged. Command and control is seen to be less effective in the light of new industry management style and new thinking. Managers should for sure be coaches and influencers – they need to be team guides, not team controllers. But where is this taking us?

Why is the old model failing?

The reason is this: We are in an age where senior executive pay has mushroomed and where the spotlight on these people means that their life expectancy is getting shorter. The expectation placed upon these leaders is huge. But here is the paradox and fatal flaw - the expectation and pressure on more junior management is insufficient. It is insufficient because subconsciously organisations have all but given up on being able to create organic and dynamic high performance leadership. The result is that 'C' level people are working 80 hour weeks in part to paper over the cracks that exist in the rest of the business.
This is a very serious failure and means that not only are leaders being ineffective but they are also in danger of being overtaken by new business models that will compete and win through organisational as well as product excellence.
Of course, even today we can see businesses that are very effectively led precisely because they lack strong product differentiation.
"...not only are leaders being ineffective but they are also in danger of being overtaken by new business models that will compete and win through organisational as well as product excellence."
When more businesses wake up to this issue and opportunity there will be a re-balancing of power and authority. Employees will have more autonomy and be accountable to peers rather than more senior people. Indeed, the concept of seniority will be further diminished from today's flat structure concept. Cultures of pure accountability will emerge.
Employees will adapt with remote working and more dispersed people collaborating virtually. People will be trained in initiative skills rather than task skills. The technology-led world will demand and allow a more trust-based model. The social media-connected world will help fuel this acceleration of change.
Communication tools and skills will rise but so too will many tools develop to enable this. All of this is coachable. So one thing will not change – the value and power of coaching as a leadership principle. Herein lies a key to adaptability and change too.
Here are my tips for leadership:
  1. Leadership is a responsibility for all – coach all teams members to behave as leaders
  2. Leadership is about inclusiveness – ensure that everyone is understanding and on the same page
  3. Ownership, responsibility and accountability are the three cornerstones so effective leadership creates full participation and understanding of this
  4. Consistency breeds confidence and sustainability. Repeat and clarify all intents
  5. Clarity is critical. Make sure that all the team understands at all times what is expected of them
Stephen Archer is a business analyst and director of Spring Partnerships


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