Martin Hedley

Thursday, 02 July 2015 16:20

Why Are There No Leadership Certificates?

Our team is often asked why there are no leadership certificates. Of course the are asking about qualification certificates, not just certificates for attending a programme.

As our vision and role is to develop leadership in people all over the world regardless of status, location or position, is this a reasonable question from our potential candidates?

Nature of Leadership
Fundamentally, there are three outcomes in leaderhsip, although you can grade people on a scale. There is no leadership ability, regular leadership ability, and outstanding or extraordinary leadership ability. Each of these must be taken in context however. If a person is the coach of a local sports team and they are a great leader of that team, that does not necessarily translate into them being a great leader in any other endeavour. An essential component of leadership is technical expertise, but only when there is a need for it. It is possible to be a leader in more than one situation, but too many concurrent situations draws away from another key leadership trait - focus. So if a person were to receive a 'certificate' for leadership ability, what would that mean?

Developing Leadership
In parts of the world where leadership development is still little more than a dream, development is often seen as a training programme to be attended, because there is no other frame of reference. The base knowledge of what traits constitute leadership is not well known, even though people do follow someone with leadership abilities. Following a leader is understood intrinsically in the human.

We spend a lot of time explaining to people that a leadership certificate would not make much sense and would look a bit out of place on a curriculum vitae or resumé. Leadership is demonstrated and it is only proven when others choose to follow. No amount of certificates will help.

The Good Outcome
This always gives us much enjoyment - to see the reactions as many of our members suddenly realise they already have some leadership potential. This is such a satisfying experience as people wake up to the possibilities of change in their lives and for their communities. We are desperately short of leaders worldwide and by growing more, we can tackle global problems more frequently and more effectively than we do today.

We explore the passions of each indiviudal we talk to and seek to understand major issues in their local community. We research the issues so can put remote mentoring into context for them. These local problems vary immensely but can be as simple (and essential) as getting enough water to a village, to improving the effectiveness of early education or gaining access to medical knowledge and supplies. As we listen to the individuals, we match their passions with local problems and coach them into action. The whole experience is highly rewarding.

How do you coach an aspiring leader?
  • first, realise you don't have to be super human to try and lead (or coach)
  • identify what passions a person has - what do they enjoy, or spend most time at that they also love?
  • what opportunities exist where this person could turn their hand to change?
  • interest them in coming up with some ideas and help them set stretch goals
  • let them explain their ideas to others and see if a consensus builds
  • watch that individual open their eyes and start to realise their potential
  • provide ongoing support to them as they hit the inevitable roadblocks and detractors
Leadership is truly something that anybody with enough passion and drive can achieve. We have to recognise when and where we can, and cannot lead, where we should and should not try to lead, and always look for those around us who can be encouraged to do something greater with us.

This is why there are no certificates for leadership. Leadership is a set of traits well executed, but also requires passion and an opportunity or need to make a difference. We all have leadership capability within. We owe it to the world to develop these skills. We should encourage others to do the same. Great leaders create more great leaders.

If you have examples you would like to share, please comment below.

For a FREE copy of our '100 Inspirations' document with excellent leadership quotes and suggestions on how to use them effectively in development, click
Wednesday, 01 July 2015 12:54

Abusive People in an Organisation

What is the impact of conflict in an organisation when it rises to the level of emotional abuse? Highly significant of course. But do we realise how often it occurs and know what do to about it when it does?

Based on research at Columbia Univeristy Teachers College, there is a finding that shows 20,000,000 Americans are subjected to this type of abuse every day. That is 14% of the workforce. Similar research in Europe shows a lower percentage but clear evidence that it occurs and has just the same, frightening consequences. In medical terms, these percentages are an epidemic.

Bullying or Mobbing
Bullying is described by psychologists as hositle and unethical communication directed in a systematic way by one, or a few, individuals against another individual or individuals. To the extent that the organisation permits it - through inaction, uncaring, accepting (even temporarily) or even condoning - the behavior is described as "mobbing" as if the individual is being attacked by a mob. Mobbing or bullying are illegal as there is always injury as a result, and whichever you choose to name, both are unacceptable.

Common Impact
Most of the behaviours within "mobbing" are easy to recognise. They include withholding needed information, isolation, badmouthing, constant criticism, circulation of unfounded rumour, setting rumours supposedly from the person in question, ridicule, yelling, questionning character, persistent humiliation. Any reasonable person in an organisation can identify it, name it and deal with it. But how many do? There are usually two results from mobbing - either the person is forced out of their job (their choice or the organisations choice), or they stay and lose self-esteem, ending up with nervous problems and some extreme cases result in suicide. It is the high performers who usually end up leaving because they will rise above it or be fired, but those less able to rise above, or those living in a culture where mental stress is considered somewhat taboo, feel trapped and even less able to leave than they would if the behaviour was not targetting them.

What Leaders Do
Anyone leading an organisation where this type of behaviour is allowed, through ignorance, inaction or condoning needs to make a serious change to the culture. This can lead to some very prominent people being ushered out. A significant stand needs to be taken, especially when the abuse is common knowledge (as it will become so quickly, if not tackled).

What do leaders do that others won't?
  • set clear expectations on what is an acceptable communication style and what is not
  • listen and watch for employees who might be subjected to this type of behaviour
  • don't wait for employees to complain, but actively seek out such behaviour when it is suspected
  • identify perpetrators and give stern warning
  • follow up warning with sanctions if the behaviour does not cease (hit commissions, salary, force unpaid time off for them to consider their actions - something that will get their attention)
  • if sanctions do not work, let the perpetrator or perpetrators go
  • provide empathetic and real support as needed for those who have been targets
Leadership requires us to make tough choices from time to time. The cost of not making these choices for bullying or mobbing is significant legal and criminal liability exposure, determined resistance to change, active resistance to following procedures, significant hits on customer service and very poor productivity. A good book on the topic from research in America is "Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace" by Noa Zanolli, PhD et. al..

If you have examples you would like to share, please comment below.

For a FREE copy of our '100 Inspirations' document with excellent leadership quotes and suggestions on how to use them effectively in development, click
When a manager tells an employee they need to build trust between them it can be hugely demoralising for that employee unless fully explained. Manager-employee trust is a foundational aspect of a good relationship, and of course trust is a two-way street.

Yesterday I referred to the survey from Gallup that shows only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work, 63% are not engaged or lack motivation and 24% describe themselves as “actively disengaged”. So is trust, or the scarcity of it, part of this problem?

Why Would a Manager Not Trust an Employee?
A lot of time is spent hiring an employee, looking at their background and accomplishments. If a manager did not trust a candidate we would expect that person would not be hired. So unless an employee has done something to break that trust, or has not been truthful in hiring, there should be no reason not to trust that employee.

In cases where job requirements and expectations are well laid out and understood by both, then the manager may have a concern if the employee is not delivering up to that expectation. This is a matter of performance, yet managers may say they don't 'trust' the employee to meet expectations. If that is the case, the employee should be on a performance management plan to bring them up to the required level, or let go.

But what about when an employee asks for more responsibility and is told they have to spend time developing trust? This is an all too common occurrence. Either the employee is not considered capable of the new tasks yet - and so should be told clearly - or they are. Trust has nothing to do with it and this usually means the manager is using it as an excuse for not giving the real reason - or worse there is no real reason.

The Common Causes
The most common causes of lack of trust between a manager and employee are all avoidable, though not always easily avoidable.

The first is to do with whether actions of the manager meet what was said. Too often employees are seeing managers behave in a way that they would not be allowed to, or that pronouncements about culture, mission or vision are not met by appropriate actions on a day-to-day basis. "Do what I say, not what I do" erodes trust faster than a surge tide on a sandy beach.

The second is what is now called 'spin' on communications. Always showing the 'bright' side of a situation, no matter how bad it is wears thin quickly. No employee wants to hear about layoffs for example, but when told honestly why and when, people can deal with it. The biggest problem is not with the people that had to leave, but the ones who stayed after hearing the same messages.

What Leaders Do
There are measures that we can all take to ensure trust is at the highest level possible and they are all attributes of strong leadership.
  • set clear directions and test that all employees have understood the goals
  • set clear expectations on how to work towards achieving the goals, and state what behaviour is not acceptable
  • model the behaviour you want employees to demonstrate
  • give realistic, sound reasoning for your own decisions
  • give realistic, and honest views on decisions you must implement but have little control over
  • if it's not possible to give more responsibility, say so and why
  • keep in contact with each employee to the extent each needs to ensure they feel a valued and trusted member of the team
Leadership requires us to make tough choices from time to time, but compromising the truth with spin or excuses loses the essential and valuable trust that takes years to rebuild.

For a FREE copy of our '100 Inspirations' document with excellent leadership quotes and suggestions on how to use them effectively in development, click
Monday, 29 June 2015 09:01

Why Staff Disengage At Work

If you have been wondering how important (and absent) leadership is at work, then this will shed light on some of the key issues.

A survey from Gallup has shown that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. It also revealed that of the remaining employees worldwide, the majority, 63% are not engaged or lack motivation, while 24% describe themselves as “actively disengaged”.

Why do Employees become Disengaged?
There are of course many reasons behind the high levels of employee disengagement; sometimes it comes from the way the organisation is managed, and sometimes from the employees themselves. The main reasons listed for disengagement among employees include problems with their employers or other workers, stress factors outside of work and depression or anxiety, created either at work or outside.

In terms of management and the top three causes, employees report most often that they disengage because they don’t consider that their efforts are rewarded adequately or they might begin to think that their job is a waste of their talents, and their efforts could be better rewarded somewhere else; secondly they just feel overwhelmed by the workload and thirdly, the role within the company does not offer them enough of challenge.

Some of the potential remedies employees seek are that employers take the effort to listen to them, leaving them more motivated to perform, and for managers to trust them more.

The Cost of Disengagement
Disengaged employees are costly to organisations for many reasons. First of all, high levels of disengagement will affect productivity, and the survey conducted by Gallup shows disengaged employees are more likely to suffer from anxiety or depression.

Moreover, disengagement among employees is thought to cost the workplace billions every year. Low morale among workers means they are likely to take more time off work, and they may be less effective at dealing with customers or clients, which can also prove costly.

Motivating Employees
There are measures that we can all take to motivate employees and re-engage them, though this requires leadership.
  • create an environment where employees feel they are getting adequate support at work and that if not, they can come to you about it
  • if employees are overwhelmed by the sheer workload, they should be able to talk to you about it, after all it may just be a case of refocusing the individual on what's important and what isn't
  • create an environment where staff feel they are listened to; being able to share their ideas, even if you have to explain that an idea may not be possible, is still motivating because you have shown that sharing their idea had value in itself
  • recognise extra effort so the employees feel their hard work has been worthwhile; many companies have incentive programmes for this, but often it is just being recognised that is really needed
  • eliminate incentives where team members have to compete against each other to give their best performance, as this is an extremely effective way of demotivating employees
  • identify possible ways to alleviate the effects of their concerns outside of work and where possible, make temporary adjustments
Leadership requires us to maintain the engagement of our employees, through setting a clear vision, maintaining focus on what's important and listening to them when they have ideas to improve. It is also having empathy with them when they have issues outside of work.

For a FREE copy of our '100 Inspirations' document with excellent leadership quotes and suggestions on how to use them effectively in development, click
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