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CBF Event Review: What does effective leadership mean to you?

Kim Talbot, Leadership Development Specialist at ION Leadership, spoke with the Caerphilly Business Forum this morning at Coleg Y Cymoedd’s Ystrad Mynach campus. With her, Kim brought a range of thought provoking discussion points around leadership in business – most notably, the concrete benefits that can come from effective action in this area.

Kim confirmed that within ION Leadership “We are building a company of leaders across South Wales. One of my passions is to start a conversation with those who are either on our programme or not – about leadership. To lead the way across the UK.”

Kim began her presentation in earnest with research from the ILM Manifesto 2017 – a survey on the topic “How does your leader make you feel?”. 38% reported they felt ‘good at their job’, with 34.2% and 19.8% reporting that they felt valued and inspired respectively. Here, the figures begin to dip. Just 14.6% of those surveyed felt empowered. Worse still, 24% reported feelings of stress, and over 19% reported feelings of anger, frustration and demotivation.

The most significant effects of poor leadership, she advised, were directly related to burnout and staff leaving the company. Speaking on research undertaken for a call centre client, Talbot identified that the cost of attracting, interviewing, and bringing new staff up to speed averaged at £17,000 per head. A figure, she believes, is almost entirely avoidable.

During the discussion itself, Talbot led a discussion with the event attendees – firstly, asking questions as to what people thought of leadership – cumulating in examples of leadership structures that have proven remarkably effective. Namely, structures seen in sports teams and also in the armed forces. The consistent thread between the two, Talbot identified, was a range of different leaders spread out through key areas.

Talbot identified a prudent quote from Warren Bennis: “Leadership is like beauty – it’s hard to define, but you know it when you see it.” The audience in attendance, once prompted, admitted to believing that “things get in the way of effective leadership”, and further confirmed that “doing it [leadership] does not necessitate doing it well.” From this, Kim tied in the theory of ‘leadership lag’ – namely, the fact that business believe simply being in a leadership position makes an employee a leader. Often, we see organisations not even considering leadership until something goes wrong.

Training, Talbot confirmed, was a hugely effective means of upskilling leaders across the board. Referencing a Ted Talk from Amy Cuddy, Talbot noted that “Lots of people fake it ‘till they make it. But once they ‘make it’, they are often still ‘faking’ the skills that got them there.” A poor strategy for long term success.

In closing, Talbot impressed upon the attendees that leadership is a hugely different strategy to simply managing, encouraging business leaders to differentiate between the two for optimal gains. She confirmed that fully engaging employees through leadership strategies resulted in, amongst other things, a 2x increase to net profit, 59% greater innovation, 18% higher productivity, and a 40% reduction in overall turnover.

Our next event, led by Helen Iles of Hugh James Solicitors on December 5th, will take a detailed look at GDPR and what it means for your business. Register for your place here. Tickets for the Caerphilly Business Forum Awards on November 17th have now sold out due to huge popularity.