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Leadership x 5gen

I was reflecting recently on how many of my colleagues from my Barclays days have had such brilliantly successful careers in Banking, Insurance and other industries.

Many have been at the ‘C-suite’ level and on Boards. We all had different background, philosophies and thinking so there is no obvious commonality to the success seen. My reflection on this is that the one thing the Barclays was brilliant at was the training and development of its leaders.

At every level of my organisational leadership roles, there was a development plan, leadership training and serious investment in me. We attended seminars, business schools, workshops, other business to share ideas and had our own leadership development centre known as Ashdown Park (now a 5* hotel).

This reminiscing preamble leads me to believe that it was the investment in our development that helped us to deliver in our roles, be better leaders and intimately have successful careers.

Today the world is very different. Organisations are reluctant to invest so heavily (they might leave) and much learning is self directed and online. I have seen so many organisation make little or no effort to invest in leadership. Well done on being promoted now crack on! As Richard Branson wisely said, invest in your people and they might leave, don’t invest and they will stay!

Which brings me to the challenges of todays leaders which are extraordinary complex and with more demands upon them than ever before. These include:

  1. Delivering ever improving results to stakeholders in ever shorter time periods.

  2. Managing through a pandemic

  3. Economic headwinds and supply chain issues

  4. The changing pace of customer expectations

  5. Regulatory challenges

  6. ESG especially climate change

  7. Skills gaps especially in data, digital and tech

  8. Brexit

  9. Competition from new market entrants

  10. and last of my ten is the fact we now have five generations in the workplace each with very differing ideals about the world of work they are wishing to be part of.

All the self help in the world will do little to help junior leaders to manage and thrive with this level of complexity and to have the resilience needed to cope.

And if your Exco and Board is made up of mainly middle aged straight white men, how are you going to understand the generations, the needs of a diverse workforce and create a climate and culture where the best thrive and stay?

Spotting and developing talent is one of the 101 basics for leaders at all levels. How is this possible without the training and development leaders need to do this well?

Take a good hard look at your leadership development plans. Don't outsource it to HR and remember how ever senior you are, you are never to old to learn something new every day.

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