📅 6th June 2019 | Diversity
Learning from mistakes
They say that we learn from our own mistakes, but it turns out that brains are also activated in the face of mistakes by other people, triggering powerful reward and learning signals. This finding from two Bristol university researchers in 2009, Dr Paul Howard-Jones and Dr RafalBogacz, show that we learn from other people’s failures, perhaps to forestall making similar mistakes ourselves in the future.
As we approach the end of Theresa May’s period as Prime Minister – at two and a quarter years the sixth shortest tenure of any PM since 1900 – we have a vivid object lesson in how not to lead the country and Cabinet colleagues. For, while Oscar Wilde spoke of the misfortune of losing one parent and the carelessness in losing two, what would one say of a Prime Minister who suffered 34 resignations and whose first attempt at pushing her Brexit deal through the House was lost by 203 votes, the largest parliamentary defeat for a governing party in history. Moreover, in the vote of confidence called on her leadership in December, 117 of her own MPs sided against her, a third of the total number. Goethe’s view that ‘A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together’ provides a damning indictment.
So what exactly can be learned? Putting the spotlight on May’s behaviour (rather than political views) and balancing these against the blueprint of leadership excellence presented in a new book on leadership (it is by myself but scrupulously objective for all that), we can see shortfalls on all of the 15 attributes of effective leaders.
So, whether it be Manchester United’s Alex Ferguson, British Airways Chief Executive, Sir Colin Marshall (he that took the airline’s debt-laden past into new realms), Graham Davis, former Head of Sales of the Royal Mail Group or Dr Katie Ricks, former Head of Sunday Times school of the year, Sevenoaks School, all of them used attributes that were inclusive in character. And let it not be said that good leadership is the exclusive preserve of American companies since all of these superlative leaders were based in Britain.
In terms of attributes, the fifteen, drawn from the widely-respected ‘Transformational’ and ‘Servant’ leadership models are shown immediately below:
|Inclusive leadership attributes||
|Whether from Transformational (Tf) or Servant Leadership (SL) models|
|Individualised consideration||Showing individual interest and offering one-to-one support for followers||Tf|
|Idealised influence||Having admirable qualities that followers want to identify with||Tf|
|Inspirational motivation||Providing an appealing vision that inspires followers||Tf|
|Intellectual stimulation||Encouraging followers to develop their ideas and to be challenged||Tf|
|Unqualified acceptance||Being inclusive in considering followers||SL|
|Empathy||Putting oneself mentally and emotionally into the follower’s place||SL|
|Listening||Actively listening to followers||SL|
|Persuasion||Being able to influence followers||SL|
|Confidence building||Providing followers with opportunities and recognition||SL|
|Growth||Encouraging followers to reach their full potential||SL|
|Foresight||Having the ability to anticipate events and where they might lead||SL|
|Conceptualisation||Having a vision about possibilities and articulating that vision to followers||SL|
|Awareness||Being fully open and aware of environmental cues||SL|
|Stewardship||Articulating the belief that the organisation’s legacy is to contribute to society||SL|
|Healing||Helping followers cope with any burdens||SL|
So if you scrutinized Theresa May’s leadership against the standards of these 15, you would find her performance wanting on many. When, for example, ministers at Chequers were told that those contemplating resignation would not be available to avail themselves of ministerial cars for the 10 mile return journey but would need to use the services of private taxis firms, she was falling foul of numerous attributes (no empathy, for example, no empathy, persuasion, healing, individualised consideration, idealised influence and inspirational motivation). Moreover, she had already also, allegedly, cleared her negotiating plan with Germany before discussions with her cabinet colleagues and when her Deal was put to the House on three separate occasions, she was failing to listen to objections from the House and from the public at large.
As we ponder the new contenders for the office of PM, with Boris Johnson as the Bookies’ current favourite, we can only hope that he makes good the deficiencies of the current incumbent. Politicians apart, there are vital lessons for those in sales.
Lessons for Sales
Having seen the experience of non-inclusive leadership over almost three years, one winning way of building successful sales relationships is through Inclusive behaviours with employees. As Richard Branson has said, if you look after your employees, your relationships with customer will look after themselves.
Some of the finest companies in Britain are pointing the way forward and so holding an inclusive leadership barometer to the leaders in your organisation is essential.
After nearly three years of Command and Control leadership who could ask for more?
Gloria Moss PhD FCIPD is Professor of Management and Marketing at Bucks Business School at Buckinghamshire New University. She has been a Training and Development Manager in blue chip companies including Eurotunneland is author of ‘Inclusive Leadership’ (Routledge), published in April 2019 (see https://tinyurl.com/y3zs288e).
Gloria Moss will be speaking at an event on Leadership organised by the IOD, Bucks New University and Buckinghamshire Business First. For details and to book:
https://bbf.uk.com/event/leading-teams-the-secrets-to-best-practice-leadership Note that the venue is walking distance from High Wycombe station just 25 minutes from London and well connected to neighbouring Oxford, Slough, Windsor and Aylesbury.
Tags: inclusive leadership
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