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Sunday, 2 June 2013

Do You Care About Your People? That Is What They Want From a Leader!

It’s strange how the occasional spot of insomnia can set the creativity flowing and that at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning.  My prescription for the condition is to listen to the BBC World Service until I go back to sleep. 

Last time this happened I was fortunate enough to hear a repeat of the Radio 4 programme, Four Thought, which really interested me and set my mind on a new train of thought (and at 3.00am). 

The programme featured the CEO of a consultancy which promotes the concept of democratic management; in fact, it was about companies where the people choose their managers rather than having them imposed from above. 

Radical it certainly is, but there are several cases of companies using the idea and with considerable success in terms of happy, contented and very productive workforces. 
A good example of the method is W J Gore, manufacturers of Gore-Tex materials, which was set up some 60 years ago with the express intention of using the democratic technique and has now grown into a multi-national and very successful business. 

Google, which fairly obviously has access to a vast range of information, surveys and opinions, has consolidated it all and come to conclusions about what it is that people in the workforce really want from their leaders. 

The Google research listed eight major factors which they say, if well applied, can make a major contribution to the well being and hence the effectiveness of the people in the business. 

Number 8 on the list is for the leader to have the necessary technical skills in order to assist the team as appropriate, and number 7 suggests that the leader needs to have a clear strategy and vision. 

Fairly obvious of course so far; number 6 says that the leader should be prepared to help the team with their career development.  Strangely, number 5 says that the team expect that the leader is a good communicator which seems to be quite low in terms of the priorities. 

Number 4 on the list says that the leader needs to be productive and results orientated which is another way of describing that old management tool of Management by Objectives which still has relevance although now under new disguises. 

The top three requirements of a successful leader according to the Google research are at number 3, to express interest in the team’s success and personal well-being; number 2 enjoins the leader to empower the team and not to micro-manage them and the top factor and by far the most significant is that the leader should be a coach to the team and its members. 

If we take that well worn statement that “I need to do it because I know that I will be done right” at face value, then the leader is in a perfect position to transmit that expertise to the team and subsequently to let them get in with it. 

Coaching is not a matter of training; it is a subtle way of assisting people to develop their own skills and abilities to the advantage of themselves, the team and the business.  The ideal leader is in a perfect position to draw out of the team all those innate talents and then to give them their heads to express themselves without interference. 

The people look for leaders who, in the broadest sense, are interested in them, in their well being, in their careers and in their performance.  In addition they want leaders who are prepared to help them develop themselves and their careers. 

Care about your people and trust them; it could the biggest and best decision that you ever make.
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