Good leadership begins with a long look in the mirror
23 June 2020
Tuesday 23 June 2020
There have never been so many MBA-qualified leaders in the ranks of British business, yet somehow the key indicators that show a healthy business stubbornly refuse to rise.
What is going wrong? Why have productivity, staff retention and employee wellbeing been stagnant or declining for a decade?
Jeremy Moore, founder of Zoomcow consultancy, diagnoses a basic supply side error: leaders are falling back on theory and the way things have always been done, and are failing to provide the leadership that is really needed.
“So stop reading theory books, and look at the real impact you’re having on the team you lead,” Moore advises clients.
Moore, who has coached hundreds of executives worldwide, along with the GB junior rowing squad, believes in the power of good leadership to transform the fortunes of a team.
Good leadership starts with a hard, unflinching look in the mirror.
The corporate equivalent of staring in the mirror is to measure what is going on in your organisation. What is the state of employee morale? Is wellbeing improving or on the decline? How do staff feel about the way they are led? How do they rate your leadership on the key qualities of trust, empathy and respect? How does their rating compare with your own view of how well you lead?
This last comparison is an uncomfortable but necessary thing to do, Moore says. It is no good brushing resentment at the perceived arrogance, contempt or hypocrisy of leaders under the carpet, when you can hold it up to the light and learn from it.
He categorises poor leadership behaviour as “addictive” leadership, because it involves clinging on to unhelpful behaviours that deep down you know are bad but somehow can’t help repeating.
To illustrate the devastating effect of addictive leadership, Moore tells the story of how he left his private equity job in the City after a bruising experience with a new manager who failed to show the three key leadership qualities of trust, empathy and respect. A successful and high performing team was split apart and demoralised because the incoming boss made every single team member re-apply for their job with the threat of the sack hanging over them.
When it was Moore’s turn, the boss clapped him on the back and offered him his own job, saying he was “on my team”. Moore refused, and quit the business.
“The uncomfortable truth is that we know what we should deliver, but we don’t deliver it,” Moore told the audience of APS fellows during today’s inspiring webinar.
“How many of us work for an organisation that we would be happy for our children to work for?
“We need a far more sophisticated understanding of leadership and the effect we have on people. Listen to our own intuitions, and use an incredibly powerful thing called free will to turn away from addictive choices. We can all choose to have an impact on the people we lead.”
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