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Progress in Leadership and Management – interview


ILM logoThe Institute of Leadership & Management was formed from the merger of NEBS Management and the ISM. The new Institute was represented at the CIPD Exhibition in Harrogate, and TrainingZONE dropped in to talk to new Chief Executive Gary Ince about their aims and plans for the future.

TrainingZONE The merger was announced early in the year and is now effective. What are your aims?

Gary Ince, CE of ILMGary Ince First and foremost our aim is to raise management capability in the UK. To work towards this we are developing several areas. On qualifications, we are offering a full range and depth, from a Level 2 team leader qualification, right across to Level 5 Senior Management, in a modular system so individuals can work their way up. We are also providing opportunities through membership for networking, and for sharing best practice. We are working to provide a greater set of learning support materials, and we will also be taking a bigger role as a publisher. We have 22,000 members, and we will look to increase that, and we will be providing more shorter conferences to provide a forum for networking and sharing information.

We are targeting people who want to work their way through successive qualifications. Membership offers a structure for development, and with it an assurance of credibility. Half a million people have been through the qualifications at some level, and currently we have over 60,000 people going through programmes every year.

TrainingZONE There has been a lot of talk recently about the inadequacies of management in the UK. How do you intend to respond to this?

Gary Ince Management training, and a concern with effective management, need to go in at a lower level. I think this is where more resources need to be directed. I think that it is by focussing on the lower tiers, where often people have no preparation or guidance in becoming managers, that real gains can be made.

ILM has over 2000 accredited centres in the UK. Our own work on improving quality and delivery of management development will involve a spectrum of providers: currently our customer base is spread around one third colleges, one third training providers, and one third companies.

TrainingZONE Government seems to want to get involved in changing UK management. Can they usefully do anything?

Gary Ince Government can influence the climate for development, and it can introduce this into schools. And it can help with some of the funding issues, particularly with SMEs.

But really it’s companies who need to commit, and to do that they need to see some real benefits coming out, to see the win. The UK has habitually been very short term in its planning. In a fast-changing world we need to commit all the more to the longer term.

TrainingZONE Can we really talk very generally about management skills across sectors?

Gary Ince I think we can. I think it’s possible and necessary to plan to improve management across sectors, and I think there are similar issues and challenges, and generic skills which respond to those. The health sector alone, for instance, includes a huge range of job types, but many of the same management skills are needed right across it.

We are looking to work with other associations to persuade them too to introduce a modular structure for development, to make the gradual achievement of skills levels easier, and more transparent. This will also help people to recognise the nature of transferable management skills.

People tend to get into management without preparation. They have a technical skill initially, then they achieve a certain status through it and suddenly have to manage others, which is a very different thing. That situation itself is common across sectors! What people then need, wherever they are, is some assistance and direction in developing their managerial skills. And they need to know that there are generic, transferable skills in management, skills which can be acquired. Clearly there’s always a need to respond to specific industrial needs too.

TrainingZONE There are a lot of very diverse providers of management development out there, all the way from NLP to ropes and barrels and a great range between. How should companies can go about choosing a mode of development to suit their needs?

Gary Ince Well, we offer qualifications, and we endorse training programmes, so we have a role there: training from a particular provider can be benchmarked. If we develop this further, then that is going to help people to make more informed choices.

But you can’t change the fact that the responsibility must lie with the purchaser, the organisation. We can do a certain amount to provide information and reassurance, and encourage accurate assessment of needs and solutions, but at the end of the day they have to take responsibility for finding out what they really need.

We have now launched two new magazines, Edge and Point. They are learned journals with practical examples, and they can help to familiarise training managers with management development.

TrainingZONE Here at the CIPD conference we are made acutely aware of the changing pressures affecting organisations, and looking around the show it is also clear that providers keep coming up with new approaches. How can you remain responsive to change, but above fashions?

Gary Ince The QCA (Qualifications and Curriculum Authority) creates a regulatory framework, a level playing field, which is one thing to rely on. But really the good principles of management don’t change. Programmes that are work-based also have the reliability of practice and realism, which insures to an extent against the extremes of fashion.

The new ILM qualifications also have an introductory and modular approach at all levels of management, giving maximum flexibility. We have launched a non-QCA group of qualifications too, which offers companies more room to adapt to change and tailor our programmes to their distinct business needs.


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