I’ve been thinking a lot recently about “leadership”. From the famous definition advocated by NLP: “… the ability to change the second half of your sentence based on the feedback you receive to the first half …” (impressive !), to wondering whether charisma is an absolute prerequisite for a great (rather than just a good) leader?
I was pleased therefore to be able to attend the LinkedIn London Communicators and Engagement Group (LCEG) meetup on 8th May to discuss how, and to what end, the Internal Communications (IC) function can influence their leadership communications, which involved some interesting debates about the nature and essence of leadership.
The session was facilitated by Lorri Lennon, Director of Australia’s Centre for Leadership Communication, who presented highlights from research conducted over two years by a cross-disciplinary team from two universities and one Business School into: Leadership, Culture and Management Practices of High Performing Workplaces in Australia. In the Foreword of the report, which was published by the Society for Knowledge Economics and can be downloaded here, the Society’s President Steve Vamos said:
“The study shows that leaders in higher performing organisations prioritise people management as a key priority, involve their people in decision making processes; are more responsive to customer and stakeholder needs; encourage a high degree of responsiveness to change and learning orientation, and enable their staff to fully use their skills and abilities at work.”
The organisational performance of the 78 participating services-based organisations (e.g. law firms, advertising companies, accounting firms, consulting firms, employment agencies etc.) was assessed using 18 performance measures in six categories. Five of these categories assessed the performance of the organisations’ intangible assets while one assessed the organisations’ financial and productivity performance.
The 18 performance measures were used to calculate the High Performing Workplace (HPW) Index which identifies the higher and lower performing organisations in the sample. Analysis shows that HPWs consistently outperform the rest both in regards to managing their intangible assets and their productivity and profitability.
Further analysis by The Centre for Leadership Communication looked in detail at what the leadership of HPWs are doing differently from their lower performing counterparts. They have been able to condense this down into three key areas of activity where IC can and should be able to influence the behaviour and messaging of the leaders using the research findings to demonstrate why leaders need to be focused on these specific areas:
- Formulate & communicate a compelling Vision to deliver on defined
future performance goals
- Foster employees’ belief in Shared Values to deliver on the Vision by
embodying / living the Values
- Foster employee Involvement by inviting active participation,
fostering collaboration and being receptive to feedback
When talking about the target audience for this conversation the entire group appeared to agree to a much broader definition of leaders: not just the senior figureheads of an organisation, but all “key influencers throughout the organisation”. Referring back to the NLP ‘bible’ that I am currently dipping in and out of – Practical NLP for Managers – the role of leadership is also applied fairly indiscriminately, with everyone having some leadership qualities. The book identifies three main qualities of leadership which align almost exactly to the three points above:
“We believe there are three main qualities of leadership: vision, trust and congruence, i.e. being a model of what you say – ‘walking your talk’.”
What are the top three qualities that you look for in a good leader?
Thanks to Matt O’Neil of EventExtra and founder of LECG for organising such an interesting meetup.