Making sense of Leadership and Coaching: Managing the Workforce Talent MBA Alumni Weekend 15 May 2010 Professor Jackie Ford www.bradford.ac.uk/management Leadership Challenges • Globalisation • Technological developments • Competitive pressures • Continuing financial uncertainty • UK government election outcome • Collaborative models of working and greater inter-dependence • Quality requirements • Increasing expectations Leadership: core features • Leadership characteristics: the skills, knowledge and behaviours of leaders to be effective • Leadership context: what does it mean to be a leader in the specific context of public sector organisations? What is the impact of the external environment in which it operates? What about the internal factors - including culture? • Leadership challenges: the leadership problems, issues and opportunities that if addressed, bring significant benefit to the organisation. [Pedlar, 2004] Concerns about leadership • Huge body of literature on leadership; • Research into leadership is often fragmented, poorly conducted, at times trivial (Collinson and Grint, 2005: 5). • It has become such an authoritative discourse in both academic and organizational settings that it is too important to ignore (Collinson and Grint, 2005; Ford, 2007; Sinclair, 2005). • Leadership theory constructs a model of ‘the leader’ that is impossible to achieve. • Despite all these huge limitations on the theories and practices of leadership, the terms ‘leader’ and ‘leadership’ have a performative impact (Ford, Harding and Learmonth, 2008). • Absence of critical and reflexive approaches Leaders: more critical perspectives • Critical researchers face the role of exposing the extent to which an apparent consensus conceals or diverts attention from seething discontent, dissent and disarray that bubbles beneath the surface of organisational serenity (Ford, 2006, 2007). • The more we come to learn about leadership theory, the less we understand (Grint, 2005). • More critical perspectives explore and recognise how we construct situations locally. This brings together the importance of local, contextual, dialogical and relational encounters in leadership. My research aims • to explore new, more critical, ways of researching, conceptualising and practicing leadership • to explore through story telling accounts, how managers make sense of their lives as managers and leaders in the turmoil of the current environment The research context • Council had recently undergone a leadership development for the top 150 managers • 25 managers were interviewed for this study using in-depth biographical narrative methods both for data gathering and analysis (Hollway and Jefferson, 2000; Crossley, 2000; McAdams, 1993) • Managers were drawn from senior, middle and junior managerial ranks Research findings on leadership in local government  Managers report considerable complexity in their working lives. Key features include: • Contradiction • Ambiguity • Anxiety • Tensions • Inconsistencies Source: Ford, J. (2006) ‘Discourses of Leadership: Gender, Identity and Contradiction in a UK Public Sector Organisation’ Leadership, 2(1): 77-99 Research findings  Four related discursive themes drawn on repeatedly by the managers: • Macho-management • Distributive, ‘post-heroic’ leadership • Outside of work influences • Career trajectories Analysis • Enable an exploration of contemporary discourse of leadership and their complex relations with gender and identity • Showed how charismatic and masculine models of leadership still formed hegemonic approach • Offered insights into complex, multiple, competing and contradictory identities that characterise managers narratives of the self • Mainstream accounts take too lightly the insecurity, anxiety and ambiguity in the lives of managers that are present in the accounts of these managers Managers in the council • Tensions and contradictions between espoused and practiced approaches to leadership • Aims to practice allegedly more distributive leadership approaches are frustrated by organisational demands which mean that the traditional, more autocratic managerial practices prevail • Hugely complex interactions Case analysis: Stuart, Corporate Service Director • Uses the evocative metaphor of the caveman – competitive, unthinking, aggressive, heavily controlled and thus resistant to any change in leadership style: I fear we’ve done this… the transformational leadership programme and all that, I don’t see the culture of the organization changing as a consequence of that, I see some quite transformational leaders around the place…em… battering on the walls of the cave to get out, but I don’t see it embedding in the organization as a culture… Stuart: I think it’s a just a sense of, I’ve probably reached that point in my life when I’m taking stock [...] you know, and (long pause) there are times when you think well no, actually it would be nice to just, just do an ordinary job, just do a job that you do you know seven and a half hours a day and that’s it. Em…you know, go pack chickens or something…stack shelves… He refers to a chastening experience: ‘atthe lowest point a few years ago, the lowest points were one of ….. there was almost something self-destructive about it, that I was going to kill myself doing it, I was going to work and work and work until I made myself ill, em………I was almost consciously doing it, and I don’t know who that…what that was to prove, I’ve no idea, but it was like …I will keep going, I will keep going, and when I’m ill that will bloody show somebody, I don’t know.’ Having risen rapidly through his chosen profession and secured promotional opportunities and senior roles at a relatively young age, Stuart presents himself as uncomfortable in his current role, and at a period of indecision. He expresses concern at the dilemma that now confronts him: ‘The thing that worries me about that is I don’t know if I can find peace, tranquillity, doing this job for another ten years whatever until I retire. Erm… I don’t know how you keep the motivation up. I suppose my motivation has always come from the next challenge and there’s that bit of me now that’s saying….well, don’t know if I need that next challenge now, but then if I don’t look for the next challenge what is motivating?’ Case analysis: Joe • Joe shows that, inside the cave, there is a focus on faultfinding, blame and failure or fear of failure: I think in the culture we have now that there’s a… there’s a real danger that people will just… you know… people will just find fault and… and, therefore, you will become more scared if you’re not careful, erm… as a manager and you start to… well, it goes back to performance indicators. You know, we’re terrified about declaring this result for this thing and, therefore, we… you know, we do our damndest to make sure we can count everything we possibly can towards it and then you start to be… it’s a sort of fine line between that and then starting to… well, I don’t mean falsified, but you know what I mean, you start to, sort of, be economical with the truth about something, because you’re scared… And you start to get diverted from, if you’re not careful, what really matters and also, you create a culture… well, not… sort of… fear in a way or… or real fear of failure, perhaps, rather than celebration of success. Managers have contradictory demands placed on them: • you must, regardless of your biological sex, be masculine; • you must be a macho, heroic manager; • you should be a heroic leader; • you must be a post-heroic leader. A prevailing sense of the need to be the perfect manager/ leader. Discursive conclusions • Contemporary accounts of leadership exert additional pressures on managers • This pressure creates dissonance where managers struggle with the need to adopt three highly conflicting identities – the macho manager, the macho hero and the feminine leader • The clash of gendered cultures creates anxiety. Managers are now charged with the task of being both masculine and feminine and the incompatibility of this charge causes ambiguity and uncertainty Further thoughts • Need to be aware of ways in which language constructs that of which it speaks • As managers strive for security in their sense of selves, anxiety is buried in the psyche • Transcendental being of a manager has to be challenged. No-one can be that perfect! • Need to challenge the unachievable norms of leadership offering in place of the superhero, a model of a flawed individual in interactions with others • This extends into other non-work aspects of managers’ lives too: the pressure to be the perfect manager/leader/partner/parent etc.. A new conceptual model Personal leadership effectiveness There is no prescribed model for leadership nor any single approach that will guarantee success. Rather we must focus on the through-life development of personal styles based on self-awareness and a sound understanding of others Source: RAF Doctrinal Framework for Leadership http://www.raf.mod.uk/rafleadershipcentre/theleader/leadershipdoctrine.cfm Why has Talent Management become so important? • Shift from industrial to information age. • Intensifying global demand for high-calibre talent, esp. managerial/ professional • Growing propensity to switch companies, careers • Work-Life balance expectations • Changes to the workforce profile: More highly educated staff; greater aspirations; ageing workforce • Marketing Theory: segmentation & branding (Michaels et al 2001 : The War for talent) The War for Talent ( based on Martin & Hetrick, 2006; Economist, Oct 7th, 2006) Importance of Talent in Role of Population knowledge-based changes , international economies/organizations labour markets and HR supply chains Talent drives reputations and is attracted by reputations Employee loyalty and trust fading (CIPD, 2006) The rise of diverse careers, work-life balance What is talent? ‘A code for the most effective leaders and managers at all levels who can help a company fulfil its aspirations and drive its performance, managerial talent is some combination of a sharp strategic mind, leadership ability, emotional maturity, communication skills, the ability to attract and inspire other talented people, entrepreneurial instincts, functional skills, and the ability to deliver results.’ Source: (Michaels, et al, 2001, p. Xiii) What is Talent Management? • The integrated set of processes, programmes and technologies designed to develop, deploy and connect key talent and critical skill sets to drive business priorities (Sistonen 2005) • The identification, development, engagement, retention and deployment of those employees who are particularly valuable to an organization, either because they are ‘high-potential’ or because they are fulfilling business-critical roles (CIPD 2007) Talent Pools (CIPD 2007) TM Processes Iles 2007 • Attracting talent: Branding, Matching • Retaining Talent: engagement, psychological contract • Developing Talent: eg leadership development • Transitioning Talent : promotion, succession, lateral movement, letting go Talent: Inclusive or Exclusive? Duttagupta (2005) • Microsoft UK focuses attention on its A list, top 10 per cent of performers, regardless of role and level. • Six Continents targets executives below board level and high potential individuals, as the two cadres likely to provide their leaders of tomorrow. Talent Definitions Definitions of talent should be tailored to individual organisations (Towers Perrin, 2004b) • Each company encouraged to ‘understand the specific talent profile that is right for it’ (Michaels, et al, 2001, p. xii). • In-depth and concise assessment of key elements of organisation culture and job structure, followed by matching with candidates who have specific backgrounds, work experiences, and personal qualities crucial in talent identification. What is Talent? 1 • Williams (2000: 35) describes talent as those people who do one or the other of the following: ‘Regularly demonstrate exceptional ability and achievement either over a range of activities and situations, or within a specialised and narrow field of expertise; consistently indicate high competence in areas of activity that strongly suggest transferable, comparable ability in situations where they have yet to be tested and proved to be highly effective, i.e. potential’. • Fishman (1998: 104) identifies talent as ‘The most important corporate resource over the next 20 years, and they are smart, sophisticated business people who are technologically literate, globally astute, and operationally agile’. What is Talent ? 2 • CIPD (2007) ‘Talent consists of those individuals who can make a difference to organisational performance, either through their immediate contribution or in the longer term by demonstrating the highest levels of potential’ (p. xi). • Berger (2004: 5) : ‘superkeepers’, based on classification of employees according to their actual and/or potential for adding value to the organisation: ‘Superkeepers are a very small group of individuals, who have demonstrated superior accomplishments, have inspired others to attain superior accomplishments, and who embody the core competencies and values of the organisation; their loss or absence severely retards organisation growth because of their disproportionately powerful impact on current and future organisation performance’ Perspectives on Talent (1) Exclusive perspective : viewing key people with high performance and potential as ‘talents’ (people-related understanding); (2) Exclusive perspective: viewing right people in key positions as talents (position-related understanding); (3) Inclusive perspective: viewing everyone as ‘talent’ Inclusive Perspective 1 • Bones (cited in Warren, 2006: 25): ‘an inclusive talent management strategy is a competitive necessity’. • Buckingham and Vosburgh (2001: 17-18): ‘The talent is inherent in each person…HR’ s most basic challenge is to help one particular person increase his or her performance; to be successful in the future we must restore our focus on the unique talents of each individual employee, and on the right way to transform these talents into lasting performance ’. Inclusive Perspective 2 • Stainton (2005): fundamental debate regarding whether TM should take inclusive or exclusive perspective. • TM may adopt a broader approach by recognizing everyone as having capability and potential to display talent; therefore, everyone can achieve opportunities to be considered and developed, and everybody basically can go through the same talent identification process. • Opportunities are essential, because talent requires an opportunity to be displayed. • Employees may have abilities, but they may not be given the opportunity to display them in the workplace. • It is critical to provide continuous opportunities for everyone to learn, to grow, and to strive to fulfil one’s potential (Walker, 2002). The Nine Box Model (Regan 2008) Talented & Turn Valued Serious Troublesome or Contributors High Flyers New? Potential Growth Serious Future High Talented But! Possibilities Potentials Mastery In the wrong Bread & Seasoned Job? Butter Professionals Not yet full Full Exceptional Performance Performance Performance Performance Potential Development Options Talented & Valued Serious Troublesome or Turn Contributors High Flyers New? Monitoring & External coaching Move into next coaching or mentoring role Serious Future High Potential Growth Talented But! Possibilities Potentials Short term Training & Secondment objectives Development to gain breadth Bread & Seasoned Mastery In the wrong Professionals Job? Butter Agree retention Exit – Role/ tactics, use to Provide stretch Arena coach Not yet full Full Exceptional Performance Performance Performance Performance Investment Banking • Star hire: often performance plunges, team’s performance declines, market value falls • Performance not just attributable to individuals, but groups & context • External social networks & company resources, systems & processes important, inc. leadership, internal networks, training, team membership, routines, skill-sets (Groysberg et al 2004) Problems • Talent matters, but TM matters more? • Talent requires opportunity & direction • Organisation & management important: teams vs groups • Leadership, structure, culture important • Human capital & Social Capital Development (Iles & Preece 2006, 9) • Links with diversity/Equality of Opportunity? Focus solely on Individual Talent/Human Capital • Neglect major repairs to organization as a whole • Arrogance and elitism • Talent not fixed over time • Focus on hiring outsiders at expense of developing insiders • Talented people recruit in own image, restricting what counts as talent • Focus on individual leadership, hero worship and executive pay – creates narcissism, over-reliance on financial incentives and ruthlessness Some important challenges for leadership, coaching and talent Increasingly, managers need to ask themselves the following questions: • What is meant by leadership and talent and what types of leaders are required in our business today? • How do I personally stand up to the challenges of contemporary leadership and how can I develop myself as a leader to meet that challenge? • How self-aware am I and how can I gain a greater insight into the way I function as a leader and am seen by my followers? • How can I lead in a manner which gains respect, commitment and the best from my employees? • How can I change my behaviour in order to improve my leadership potential and the potential of those who work for me? • What is the impact of my mindset and my values on the way that I lead? • How can I find out?
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