Explore the skills gap – Which skills need to be developed? Which skills are becoming redundant? And how are L&D professionals preparing for these...
Leadership & management - how can we do better?
Great leadership isn’t about drinking the company Kool-Aid or completing a one-size-fits-all course. It’s more sophisticated than that. But it's also entirely built into the context of the culture and organisation you work in.
In our latest podcast episode, Leadership & Management - How Can We Do Better?, Andrew Jacobs, spoke to four L&D experts about how companies can develop effective leadership practices, despite the everyday challenges people face at work.
- Jodie Pritchard - Head of Learning at Citizens Advice
- Dan Hewitt - Head of Leadership, Management, and Talent Development at Ocado Group
- Sally Rhodes - Head of L&D at VirginMediaO2
- Simon Gibson - Group Head of Learning & Development at M&S
Listen to the episode here:
It turns out that great leadership starts with having empathy, getting curious and listening to your people’s needs. Here’s a summary of these key themes.
Lean into personalisation
When asked about the gaps in leadership and management design, Jodie emphasised the importance of tailoring leadership development to the specific context and needs of the organisation and the individual. People, especially managers, are busy. If you roll out a generic development programme that fails to match a manager’s needs, it’ll be met with indifference.
“Great leadership and management L&D looks like something that’s as individual as it possibly can be.” – Jodie Pritchard, Head of Learning, Citizens Advice
Jodie also discussed how valuable it is to adopt a data-driven approach when assessing leadership needs. Plus, how crucial it is to ensure that leaders and managers are working on the right thing. Being an overpaid minute taker or administrator, for example, is not making the most of a manager’s time or strengths. Rather, companies need to understand what great leadership looks like and then coach and support people towards that.
Reflecting further on the fundamentals of leadership, Dan spoke about the skills he’s working to develop at the grocery technology business, Ocado Group. “Ultimately,” Dan said, “it’s about going back to basics.” For Dan this means understanding what sets teams up for success, inspiring people, communicating effectively and most importantly, being human.
Dan believes it’s vital to have well-defined goals to address the leadership-management skills gap – that people need regular feedback against their goals, followed up with support to narrow the gap through education, exposure or stretch experiences. Dan echoed Jodie’s sentiments about creating personalised development programs, stressing that you must know what’s right for your company, instead of blindly following others’ leadership models.
Sally spoke of the expectations that are frequently placed on leaders and managers. She said a “consistent theme” she’s seeing is that people aren’t hired to be people managers – it’s often just an expectation on top of their role.
As you can expect, these – we call them accidental managers – don’t know what’s fully expected of them, and they’re not given the time or space to figure it out. Sally says most people take their management learning from their own managers, and that isn’t usually effective. Managers don't receive much feedback on their performance beyond ticking boxes for HR. And HR’s focus on box-ticking can lead to neglecting what matters most to managers and the wider organisation.
For Simon, getting to the heart of the leadership-management skills gap came from asking a cross-section of managers at his organisation: what’s getting in your way? And how can we help? Simon discovered that people wanted to be able to find things that matter, in the moment. It took people over 40 minutes to find the information they needed – a problem Simon is now working to address.
Many organisations struggle with providing knowledge that can be easily searched and found by their employees. That’s why it’s so important to make content relevant to your group and team. The 5app learning platform cuts through the clutter to get relevant information to your people, at the speed they need. See for yourself here.