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The Way I See It… The Qualities of Leadership


Executive meetingWhat are the qualities of a good leader? Peter Davies, Business Adviser for Business Link for London discusses the important traits of strong leadership and management.

While the skills gap in the UK workforce is routinely cited in the media, the importance of employing highly skilled, well-trained managers and leaders cannot be underestimated.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Annual Survey Report 2005, effective leadership skills can encourage enthusiasm and motivation across an entire business, helping to increase productivity levels and stimulate the growth of small and medium-sized businesses. Almost all businesses agree there is a direct link between leadership development and business performance and yet two-thirds believe there is a shortage of highly effective leaders in UK organisations.

Effective managers engage and motivate staff, employing reward methods that are tailored to the company and employees, resulting in increased productivity and retained staff. We would all acknowledge that the qualities which make a good leader are based on common sense.

Giving recognition
Good leaders recognise great work and are specific as to exactly what an employee did to merit recognition. A message of thanks from management to employees has little impact, but specifically singling out an individual or team can have far more force. The bonus of effective managerial skills in this area is that it encourages other employees to follow suit. People love being praised and will work harder if they feel their good work will be acknowledged.

However, a good leader will also react accordingly if poor work is produced, and will find out why and how the employee can be helped. Responsible leaders don’t draw attention to poor work to anyone other than the employee involved, and will encourage good communication.

Active recruitment
Good leaders encourage the right people to join the company, not only individuals who are highly skilled but who are also motivated with the right attitude towards work and the company in question. In many cases, a good leader will recognise that a person has the right attributes for the job, even if he or she is lacking the level of skills needed, understanding that a willingness to learn is a prized attribute.

Effective leadership shows staff where the company is going and how they can contribute towards its success. People feel a stronger affinity towards a business if they are involved in making it a success, and can directly see the impacts of their work.

Successful leaders acknowledge the need to be approachable and to know what is going on throughout the organisation, not just in the boardroom. These leaders understand that staff motivation and feedback are a good barometer showing how well the company is running rather than relying solely on revenue forecasts and projections.

Although these qualities may sound straightforward enough, many people are not natural leaders. This is why training programmes are so important to the success of businesses, recognising the importance of well-rounded individuals in positions of leadership.

* AddMore is a major new programme designed to help London’s small and medium-sized businesses boost profits and customer satisfaction. It contributes up to £1,000 to businesses with a head office in London and between 20 and 249 employees for investment in leadership and management, one of the key drivers for growth in company productivity. The flexibility of the programme allows the choice of any leadership and management training, including coaching and mentoring. The AddMore programme also offers eligible London businesses a subsidy for staff training, a free skills brokerage service and links into the Investors in People standard.


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