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As TCM celebrates its 20th anniversary, we look back to see how far leadership development has come over the past 20 years. We also look forward, to share our predictions and the priorities for the next few years. In 2001, as David Liddle was launching TCM, the UK Labour Party attained a second successive landslide election victory, Sven Goran Eriksson began his job as manager of the England Football team, Gladiator had scooped 5 academy awards, and Coldplay released the album parachutes, winning a Brit in the ‘alternative music’ category. As many of TCM’s future customers were coveting the first monochromatic mobile phone (the Nokia 8250) there was very little chance that they could have predicted how world events, and the pace of change were about to affect the way we operate in the workplace today. The year 2001 changed our world in so many ways and in 2021 we are experiencing another dramatic transition where we are envisioning a future, different to what most of us predicted, even just a couple of years ago.
Twenty years ago, autocratic leadership was often the norm. Managers were picked out and recognised as those capable of providing strong and decisive control. The understanding was that achieving this required a clear focus on developing technical, hard skills and expertise, plus a dose of charisma and natural authority.I should acknowledge, that in 2001 some of the most forward-looking leaders were beginning to nod towards the recently coined ‘transformational leadership’ style, but at the time this was as new as the introduction of access to the internet in the workplace. We all had a long way to go to understand the real potential of both. Fast forward and we can see that it’s more mainstream now for leaders to recognise the imperative role that they play in managing performance of their teams, through transformational leadership approaches. In doing so, they can provide resilience and vision, and recognise how the culture they create is central to survival and success.
We predict that the ability to lead through conflict will be the core capability now as organisations regroup and recover. There is growing evidence that failure to transform relationships is systemic and unless leading through conflict makes it to the top of the agenda, organisations that have done well to prioritise culture change will lose out through failure to manage fractures at individual and team level, as well as functions and regions. Dysfunction through conflict and relationship breakdown risks the success and competitive advantage which arises from collaboration and knowledge sharing which enable innovation, scaling up and growth.The quote “culture eats strategy for breakfast” had been attributed to Peter Drucker many years ago, even before 2001 but it has become a major theme taken seriously by organisations only in more recent years. In essence, the most forward-thinking managers now recognise that innovation, inclusion and engagement are the organisational attributes that enable real sustained growth and performance. While strategic goals to define and prioritise these are essential for change, targets to take on new markets, recruit the most inventive and brilliant minds and decentralise power will only go so far if the lived experience of the culture doesn’t live up to the reality. As we look forward to the next era of leadership development, I wanted to share my top 20 tips for building a transformational approach to leadership within your organisation:
- Prioritise leading through conflict.
- Define and communicate vision.
- Provide clarity.
- Be resilient.
- Be compassionate.
- Be agile.
- Lead through the values.
- Create dialogue for inclusion.
- Focus on standards.
- Role model flexibility.
- Demonstrate trust.
- Be participative.
- Prioritise development.
- Master communication.
- Role model work life balance.
- Avoid always rescuing others.
- Account for personality type.
- Challenge is overused – try encouragement.
- Avoid providing all the energy.
- Use good questions grounded in curiosity.