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Every two weeks we bring you opinion, news and research on Employee Engagement, Leadership and Organisational Performance, along with some thoughts on practical workplace applications.


A Dangerous Over-simplification

I entered the fray of debate in LinkedIn this week, in response to one of those “Leader is…” and “Boss is…” type of discussions. Here’s the version I saw this week:

Boss                            Leader
Demands                      Coaches
Relies on authority     Relies on goodwill
Issues ultimatums      Generates enthusiasm
Says “I”                         Says “We”
Uses people                 Develops people
Takes credit                 Gives credit

In this example, a leader is assumed to be ‘good’ and a boss ‘bad.’ Without question, leadership and management are not the same thing, but they are almost always embodied in the same person. And that’s where the problem with this false and misleading delineation lies.

For any person to be effective in a management role, they must use both management and leadership behaviours. These are different, not inherently ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ False distinctions such as those above don’t clarify the difference between leadership and management; they identify a misunderstanding of the roles.

Being a manager/boss/leader demands many complex interactions. Sometimes, being a good manager/boss/leader requires delivery of ultimatums and making demands on people – a manager is given authority for good reasons.

Managers can be good bosses and bad bosses; they can be good leaders and poor leaders. Let us not make the mistake of excusing poor manager-behaviour with such an unjustifiable over-simplification.

Steve Short – Emenex


‘It’s hard to recruit talent but the challenge for employers is to hold on to it’

This piece from Barry McCall writing for The Irish Times…

With the labour market at its tightest for many years, talent retention has moved to the top of the agenda for organisations. “Unemployment is at its lowest level since 2007 and turnover has been creeping up and has now reached 11 per cent,” says Chris Kerridge, employee engagement expert with MHR UK and Ireland.

“It comes down to engagement levels in organisations. One of the key issues is around employee and job alignment. If the job or the organisation is not what the employee perceived it to be or if there is no alignment with the culture, they won’t stay. Linked in with that is feedback, coaching and recognition.”

McCall cites Gallup and others in advocating engagement steps to combat talent attrition.


Change Management still lacking in Digital Transformation projects

Top implementers of Digital Transformation projects are in the minority, according to a global study entitled How the implementation of organisational change is evolving, conducted by McKinsey.

It was revealed that the ability to successfully manage change has declined since 2014, with leaders failing to own and commit to the change being made, role modelling new behaviours, and devoting appropriate time and energy to supporting the change.

Despite significant investment as a result of increasing pressure from customers and in an effort to remain relevant, digitisation projects are in danger of failing due to a lack of change management.

A quote from Intelligent CIO’s article, “The ideal approach is to ensure that change management is central to the transformation process, and not an afterthought or option for consideration.”


Are Flat Hierarchies Overrated? F1 Racing Drivers Think So

The World Economic Forum published a survey in 2015 which suggested that 86% of people believe we are suffering from a global leadership crisis. Four years later, headlines chronicling misguided or even disastrous leadership decisions from politics to business are dominating the news. What do the remaining 14% think today, asks Matt Symonds writing for Forbes?

Organizations are tackling this ‘leadership crisis’ in different ways. One tactic, particularly popular in Scandinavian countries, is a flat hierarchy culture in which, similar to a startup, managerial positions are removed in favour of employees working towards a common goal with equal responsibility. This is said to spur motivation and ownership.

But one country that is not embracing this widely, if at all, is home to some of the most successful companies in the world – Germany. German research is largely anti-flat leadership. In fact, a compelling study from Gianluca Carnabuci, an associate professor of strategy at ESMT Berlin, indicates why many of the innovative companies working hard to create flat hierarchies are failing.

Read more here.


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