How to improve Leadership?
However, there are some concerns highlighted by the survey about communication at top management level, and about the next generation of leaders. Leadership shortfall – many managers say that their organisation is not doing enough with regard to developing the next generation of leaders.
Without this investment in developing the skills and experiences of younger managers it is hard to see how such organisations will continue to be successful. Another cause for concern is the need identified by respondents for top managers in their organisation to spend more time communicating; respondents also highlight the need for them to communicate more clearly with staff. It isn’t only an issue of time but lack of clarity about the messages which top management want to convey to the workforce.
The survey findings indicate that there are signs of strain and pressure for many managers. Nearly half of managers surveyed say their organisation does not provide sufficient support for virtual team working. If virtual working is key for organisations – and this certainly is a growing trend for many these days – then it is strange to find support limping behind what managers say they need to help them be more effective in these roles.
Though it does perhaps explain why so many organisations say they still struggle with virtual teams! A range of options – from training interventions to individual coaching – might help with such problems. A direct question that’s rarely asked in organisations is ‘What help would virtual team leaders like?’
This year’s Ashridge Management Index found a number of problems for managers which we think organisations need to seriously consider. One aspect is to look more closely at ways to develop resilience among staff, especially at ways to ensure the manager’s job is easier, simpler and more straightforward.
Improving training and development opportunities would help as this improves individual skills and management capability. Creating stronger support networks for managers – with their boss, other senior staff and coaches – could all help, so that they do not feel isolated. Many managers in the Ashridge Management Index act as coaches to colleagues. However, we also note that the majority would like coaching themselves.
Any organisation could offer coaching ‘on demand’, available to managers who thought they might benefit from this. Coaching for performance is a great way to increase management skills. Another option, introduced in one organisation, is ‘a dialogue’ where staff regularly present projects, research and new ideas to a group of senior managers. It’s not a progress report but a chance to bounce ideas, informally discuss work in progress and to build their reputation and credibility.
Our Recommendation: Look to the future. Invest in the growth and development of the next generation of leaders.