Archive for May, 2014

Which 5 things denote excellent leaders?

WE HEAR ABOUT the war on talent and how all the best people will leave if not paid huge sums. This phenomenon is especially true in the financial services sector, particularly with big brand banks.

I am not sure whether these large banks are trying to fool us or whether they really believe what they are saying when they insist on the need to pay insane bonuses. The reality is that the current leaders are not the best leaders – most are not good leaders at all. Their skill and ability has been measured primarily on how to get to the top and how to make get the most for themselves in the process. Many really talented people who would have made great leaders left these organisations long ago, not because of a lack of money, but because they were not willing to make the necessary compromises to their values, morals or ethics to climb the corporate ladder. These people may be unknown today and make a normal amount of money – but probably live more fulfilled lives and do more for society.

We need leaders who are more interested in the sustainable success of their organisation based on serving its various stakeholders. These kind of leaders are not motivated by money.

All big bonuses do is enable banks to hold onto those high ego, self indulgent sociopaths who have created this myth that the best talent needs obscene remuneration. It seems pretty clear to me that getting rid of those kind of individuals would only be good for the organisation – and for society.

In our new book published by Kogan Page, “Leadership Assessment for Talent Development“,  we argue, based on research and experience, that organisations need to totally change the way they identify and develop future leaders.

That leaders need a certain intellectual capacity is a no-brainer (if you’ll pardon the pun.)  But research shows it only needs to be a little above the norm and that values and behaviours are much more important for leadership excellence.

So, in identifying our future “excellent leaders” we need to see five things:

  1. Their basic values are very sound
  2. They have a low ego
  3. They are genuinely willing to work on developing their behaviours – increasing their emotional intelligence – to get the best out of themselves and others. That’s how to make the leaps in productivity needed
  4. They believe that values and ethical behaviour are the touchstone for decision-making
  5. They have a reasonable intellect.

With these basic ingredients, potential leaders can then become excellent leaders by following a transpersonal (beyond the ego) leadership development journey, understanding that it is a life-long commitment to learning and self improvement. It’s not just about gaining knowledge either – they must be able to demonstrate their behaviours and effectiveness in the work-place.

ImageFIND OUT ABOUT Leadership Assessment for Talent Development – authored by LeaderShape’s John Knights, the University of Chester’s Tony Wall and others in just thirty seconds, here!


A toothbrush and a pat on the back!

THE EVIDENCE IS OVERWHELMING, says LeaderShape Faculty Member, Duncan Enright,  that financial incentives have only extremely limited value in driving motivation towards corporate goals. Most goals worth aiming for are not easily described as just an amalgamation of specific measurable targets.  People are generally motivated by personal fulfilment; financial reward is more important as a sign of success and approval, than as a driver of required behaviour (behaviour can’t be “driven”).

Salary is a hygiene factor, a potential demotivator if too low (as it breeds low esteem) but rarely a motivator. I have seen in my career many examples of people unhappy or anxious about pay as a proxy for status (for example when finding out others earn more for what is perceived as the same or less work) than I have seen successful bonus or salary schemes.

I’d go so far as to say I have never seen a good bonus scheme!

Fairness between staff, sharing and celebrating success and an accepted, but also fair differential between top and bottom pay, count for far more than ideas of incentive.

In my first job as a door-to-door salesman for a carpet cleaning company, I can still remember one week winning the best sales award: a toothbrush and a pat on the back from the company owner! I can’t remember being inspired by the rather complex and arbitrary salary arrangements at the big companies I worked with subsequently, though I do recall that as a staff member and as a manager they were a source of annual stress, misery and demotivation.


Duncan Enright  has been a senior director with over 25 years experience in the publishing industry, as well as a decade as a Vice Chair and Non-Executive Director of an NHS Trust.


Read our case study showing how LeaderShape helped one company change its corporate culture,  opening up communication, empowering individuals to take initiative and decisions,  supporting individuals in their development and enabling people to maximise their potential.