Ministry of Leadership?

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…So if cars require an MOT Test (or Ministry of Transport Test) to check road worthiness and safety, what do the leaders of UK PLC need? Perhaps an MOL Test (Ministry of Leadership Test)?

With scales suddenly falling from our eyes, it now seems more acceptable than ever to talk about the egos of Chief Executives and other leaders and how fit for purpose they really are. This in part is down to the recent resignation of Bob Diamond at the helm of Barclays and perhaps other high profile individuals whose reputations have come crashing down from the worlds of entertainment and sport.

There has been a lot of talk particularly in HR circles and non-executive meetings about senior Leaders – both in evaluating candidates in the first place based on their character, and managing their performance (and egos) while in post. HSBC has reportedly gone as far as saying that in the future they will ‘screen’ for behavioural characteristics and the tone of leadership coming from the top. Also from Financial Services, Chris Wiscarson, CEO of Equitable life has proposed creating an Ego-MOT for CEOs. Not a bad idea we think!

We have two challenges, as sadly things are never as black and white (or rational) as we’d like them to be:

Screening – Intention & Process

Using psychometrics in business in relation to performance and understanding the personality / character is a sophisticated industry and an old one at that. Organisations who are considering screening / monitoring of any kind must consider the intention behind the exercise first. At its worst, screening will become a witch hunt that would be both divisive and destructive in equal measure. If the intention and process are aligned it can create a real positive wave of change in our culture. It can serve to rebalance and redefine what ‘good looks like’ in terms of leadership. It can serve to bring out the best and utilise more potential within individuals.

Underlying issues

Having worked with dozens of CEO’s and Boards over time, they are typically good and well intentioned (talented) people. To focus on the individual gives you part of the picture. What is just as important (if not more so) is the prevailing organisational culture within which the leader operates and the dynamics and relationships present at the ‘top table’. It’s true – it can be lonely at the top. But what is also true is that Board Rooms across the land often operate with too much collusion and group think; this does not necessarily lead to a platform of trust and cooperation. These are in our opinion prerequisites to creative thinking and group solutions.

On the assumption that most leaders / directors are well intentioned and competent, businesses should be investing more time and effort in the right professional support for leaders. This investment will serve to improve tangible business performance and increase the effectiveness of the individuals we entrust to lead our organisations.

Please get in touch if you would like to talk more about supporting senior leaders to perform and achieve.

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