Simon Hayward from Cirrus comments in People Management
If command and control doesn’t cut it any more, how can HR ensure the face at the top is the right fit for the organisation?
Charismatic leaders, consensual leaders, directive leaders, dominant leaders…the array of different models leaders have been subjected to over the years is simply bewildering. And now, according to Simon Hayward, CEO of leadership consultancy Cirrus, we should prepare ourselves for the age of the “post-heroic leader”.
“The old model of one big personality who ran the company, and was the embodiment of its values and culture, is over,” says Hayward. He’s thinking of the likes of the late Steve Jobs, or former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy – leaders whose pronouncements and personalities seemed so integral to the success of their businesses that they often attracted as much attention as the products themselves.
Now, argues Hayward, there is “a level of expected democracy, accountability and fairness”, driven by a growing mistrust of bosses since the banking crisis and high-profile failures in organisations such as the BBC and the NHS.
Hayward isn’t alone in thinking the fundamentals of leadership need to be reconsidered, or that trust is the major driver of this crisis. According to the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer, less than half of people (43 per cent) feel comfortable placing their trust in CEOs, who rank second to bottom, just ahead of government officials, among a range of public figures.
The CIPD has just published a report, Experiencing Trustworthy Leadership, which highlights four key ways in which leaders can engender trust in staff: by putting relationships at the heart of business, recognising and developing uniqueness, enabling mutual responsibility and engaging with real people.
This sort of leadership can also encourage a quieter, more introverted style – a million miles away from the bombastic Vladimir Putin or Donald Trump types we have often associated with business leaders and politicians in the past. Hayward believes those that embed values are growing a more authentic type of leadership. “These are leaders with a strong moral compass, who are accountable for their behaviour, rather than just saying they are,” he says – a stark contrast to the traits of some leaders that have fallen from grace in recent years.
While some leaders may secretly hanker for the days when their word was God – and may cast envious glances at the way Putin, a man described by a confidant as being “without human emotions”, is able to rule with an iron fist – it seems the rules really have changed this time.
© 2014 People Management
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