Thursday, November 12, 2009

Should Leadership and Management Development be a National Priority?

Thanks to Adi Gaskell, from CMI and a regular Great Leadership reader and commenter, for bringing this November 10th press release to my attention. He says “It's been very popular here in the UK with the likes of the BBC and Daily Telegraph running stories on it. I think it could run well on your blog.”

I did a Google news search and it looks like the U.S. press hasn’t picked up on it yet, so consider this breaking news. Might even be a first for Great Leadership. (-:

Has the leadership “crisis” gotten so bad that we need to turn to the government for help? It apparently has in the U.K. I’m afraid we’re not too far behind in the United States. The federal government is already managing General Motors. And for any private sector organization that took a government bailout, they’re being told how to pay their executives.
Take a look at the press release, then my commentary at the end. I’d be interested in your thoughts.

Half of workers quit jobs due to bad management
10th November 2009
Better Managed Britain campaign launched to bring about skills transformation

Almost half of workers surveyed (47 per cent) have left a job due to bad management, figures from CMI today revealed.

A new survey of the UK workforce (3,000 adults surveyed by OnePoll), conducted on behalf of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) also revealed that 50 per cent believe that they could do a better job than their current manager and a similar number (49 per cent) said they would be prepared to take a pay cut, in order to work with a better manager.

Ruth Spellman, CMI chief executive, said: “The figures reveal the depth of the crisis of confidence in UK management and leadership and the enormous toll bad management is taking on the UK economy and people’s wellbeing.” Tonight, CMI, as the champion of management and leadership excellence in the UK, will meet with representatives from the three main political parties at the launch of its Manifesto for a Better Managed Britain to demand that urgent action is taken to transform management and leadership performance.

More than 1,500 leaders and managers have already pledged their commitment to CMI’s Manifesto, from organisations including PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Interbrand. The Manifesto, the result of extensive research, analysis and consultation, calls for managers, organisations and the Government to pledge their commitment to help meet the economic, social and political challenges facing Britain. It sets out the case for the Government to make the development of effective managers a national priority – with the public sector leading by example. Employers are called upon to develop professional managers and leaders in their organisations and to foster a culture where competence and accountability are paramount. The requirement for individual managers is to demonstrate professionalism, be role models and commit to continuous professional development.

68 per cent of managers surveyed confessed to being ‘accidental’ managers, not aspiring to occupy management roles at the start of their careers. Two in five admitted to not wanting the responsibility of managing people at all, while 63 per cent of managers say they had no management training. Only 28 per cent of managers hold any type of formal management qualification.

Ruth Spellman continued: “It’s not surprising bad management is such an issue in the UK. We invest less in our managers than our global competitors and it shows. It’s telling that the majority of individuals never set out to manage people, and have not been trained to do so. If we’re going to stay competitive internationally, the Government and employers need to address this worrying skills gap. In what other profession would it be acceptable for only a quarter of practitioners to hold a professional qualification? The sad truth is that UK managers are no longer regarded as professional, competent or accountable. By signing up to the Manifesto, policy makers, managers and leaders can demonstrate their commitment to raising UK plc’s game.”

Dan’s Commentary:

And just how is the government supposed to address the problem of bad management in the U.K.? In an interview with ePolitix, Spellman had these suggestions:

 Government should pledge to make development of effective managers a priority and to lead by example, by supporting professional management and leadership in the public sector.

 Tax breaks for employers investing in professional, accredited training should be common ground between the political parties and a key part of any Budget that seeks a Better Managed Britain.

 Government backing for the development of a Youth Academy for Management and Leadership.

 Government needs to ensure that more up-to-date and accurate labor market information on management and leadership practices, capabilities and qualifications is collected.

CMI is a respected organization, and I’m sure their proposals are well intended. However, they also appear to be somewhat self-serving, considering CMI is a provider of leadership and management training. That’s kind of like Jenny Craig Weight Loss Centers calling for making weight loss a national priority, with tax breaks and funding for weight loss programs.

The proposal that I like the most is the first one. I’d love to see the government lead by example. And you know, the reality is, I’m sure a lot of their managers already are. It’s just that we only hear about the high profile failures from the media. I’ve personally met plenty of outstanding, role model leaders from the public sector. In fact, many of the leading executive education programs have heavy participation from federal agencies, so it’s not like they aren’t paying attention to leadership development. And let’s not forget the military – the U.S. Army has a world-class leadership development program.

Of all the proposals, the one that scares me the most is the last one. I could envision myself spending hundreds of hours pulling together the equivalent of a yearly Affirmative Action Plan for leadership and management development. Arrrgh! No thanks, that kind of “help” we don’t need.

So what do you think? What should the government’s role be, if any, in addressing the shortage of great leadership and management talent?


Mary Jo Asmus said...

Hi Dan,

I did some work for the federal government last week - leadership development for some senior leaders. I got a call from their accounts payable yesterday telling me that they had no idea how to get the payment to me, even though I'm in the government database and have done work for them for six years and have always been promptly paid in the past. Can you do something about that, too (tongue in cheek joke)?

Bill Bliss, Executive Coach said...


One of my favorite comments of this is "Employers are called upon to develop professional managers and leaders in their organisations and to foster a culture where competence and accountability are paramount. The requirement for individual managers is to demonstrate professionalism, be role models and commit to continuous professional development."

Well, there is a novel idea that no one has ever thought of before! Let's see, if companies spend time developing their managers and fostering a culture of competence and accountability, there is no telling where we could be!

I for one, think there is already way too much government involvement in our lives today, and the pattern is showing it to only get worse. I'll have to end here, because I feel my cynicism button getting tapped and that's not a good thing for your readers.

Thanks for sharing this.

Bill Bliss
Author, "Leadership Lessons From THE BOOK" (NIN Publishing, 2009)

Ed Bell said...

Hello Dan,
I think all profit and non-profit organizations reflect the type of leadership a given society accepts. Our government is a great example of this because we citizens have the privilege of electing whom we believe will provide the best leadership. Hence, the US government is a reflection of what we as a culture define as good leadership. If we want better leadership it is not government that will provide it, not even in attempting to set a “good example.” We, the people, must decide what we will accept as great leadership; whether it be in government, business, education, charity, church, etc.

Sabrina Hanan said...

All of us in the field of OD know we and our clients have been given more than ample tools and systems to create and sustain learning organizations. This has been true for fifty years. Although there is always something new to learn and try, the underlying issues are of ability and willingness. And these two aspects must be intrinsically motivated. When the narcissism and avarice of corporations and governmental bodies fall out of favor internally and publicly and are replaced by individuals choosing to be empathic and collaborative, then real change will occur. The changes desired in others, as described by the participants in the study, have to occur inside the study participants first. When I become both able and willing to accurately know and properly manage my own thoughts and feelings, then I can expect others to do the same. Social and Emotional Intelligence are the requisites for the changes sought and they are learned individual by individual.

Dan McCarthy said...

Mary Jo -
The check is in the mail. (-:

Bill -
I'm sure a lot of my readers would agree with you.

Ed -
Well said!

Sabrina -
Agree 100%!!

Rod Johnson said...

How can this be. There must be an error somewhere in the data. This simply isn't possible!!! Haven't you been keeping up with the growing levels of employees that have MBAs and higher degrees of education. I thought this was suppose to solve the problem.

If I were to look at the stats, it would appear that the minting of MBAs might be the problem, not necessarily the solution.

Sounds to me that coaching could play an increasing role of importance into the future.

Beth A Miller said...

I agree that leadership and the development of leaders is imperative to both public and private enterprise.

Yet, getting the government involved in the development of leaders is NOT the answer. They can't even manage the postal system correctly.

Dan McCarthy said...

Rod -
so I take it you don't see a lot of value in an MBA.... (-:

Beth -
Agree. I woundn't even want to see public funding or tax breaks. Why should managers get special treatment, vs. any other occupation where we may have a skills shortage?

Alicia-Ann Caesar said...

Hi Dan:

Thanks for this post- very interesting! I think that promoting the development of effective and service focused leadership should definitely be a focus of the government. Training and encouragement are essential to great leadership and the government should promote these in a way that is open and fair to those interested in the management field. Becoming leaders by mistake or not wanting the position were problems noted in the article- that could be avoided by people in the field feeling that they have the tools to serve their peers and clients well. I am not sure if I agree with the government paying out right for these trainings or giving tax breaks specifically- but on the local government level free workshops could be developed; essentially all members of society should be given opportunities to develop as community leaders- giving and gaining for their communities and this should help with leadership development on a more macro level. Hopefully with government supporting its citizens stepping up to be people with a voice, serving those around them and eventually with built up confidence these leaders will become better mangers not only in a social or community capacity but in their respective fields of business.

Dan McCarthy said...

Alicia-Ann -
Thanks for your comment. You make a compelling point. One question - who would pay for the "free" workshops?