12/12/2011

By Adrian Swinscoe, Director, RARE Business

In the previous article, I wrote about developing an open book style of leadership and the impact it can have on growth and performance.

On the back of that I did some research and found that the number one reason that people leave their job is that they don’t like their boss. I believe this is true and is a huge cost to business in terms of recruitment, training and induction costs. However, it does not capture the cost or impact of those people who are still in their jobs but are not getting what they need from their managers and leaders are thus 'disengaged'. Read: going through the motions.

The cost of this to the UK economy was estimated in a report commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills entitled Engaging for Success. The report finds that engagement can be good for a company’s performance and cites a poll from Gallup that estimates that in 2008 the cost of ‘disengagement’ to the UK economy, in the form of absenteeism, sick days and lack of productivity was between £59billion and £65billion. That’s huge!

One of the most powerful statements in the report comes from Professor John Oliver of the Northern Leadership Alliance who says:

“Ninety Nine percent of failure to engage staff is due to management behaviour”

To me, one of the things that implies is that there is too much emphasis on ‘managing’ and not enough on leading and engaging with team members, colleagues, customers etc. Much of this, I believe, is that many people in management positions do not have a good enough grasp of what it means to lead and engage as most of the training that have had focuses on managing rather than leading. Warren Bennis in his classic book On Becoming a Leader suggests there are 12 specific reasons why leaders are different to managers:

1. The manager administers, the leader innovates

2. The manager copies, the leader is an original

3. The manager maintains, the leader develops

4. The manager focuses on systems and structure, the leader focuses on people.

5. The manager relies on control, the leader inspires trust

6. The manager has a short range view, the leader has a long range perspective

7. The manager asks how and when, the leader asks what and why

8. The manager has eyes always on the bottom line, the leader’s eyes are on the
horizon

9. The manager imitates, the leader originates

10. The manager accepts the status quo, the leader challenges it

11. The manager is the classic good soldier, leaders are their own people

12. The manager does things right, the leader does the right thing

I am not suggesting that all managers should switch all of their focus from the behaviours on the left to those on the right in the 12 reasons above but an increased awareness of where managers can develop their leadership and engagement could have huge performance gains for all businesses.

Go through the 12 reasons and ask yourself this: What balance do you have in your role between managing and leading? Then, I would suggest, ask your team and the people around you to give you their view. What do you think?


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