Leadership traits are the characteristics that leaders possess that enable them to lead effectively. I’m going to run down 20 of the traits I believe are most important, it’ll be interesting to see how many you feel you already have, and which ones you’re still working on. Leave a comment below to let me know.
The Top Leadership Traits
20. Patience – A good leader needs to show their employees that they’re willing to give them as much time as necessary to see them perform. A manager who roughly attaches arbitary deadlines onto tasks and aggressively chases employees up will only antognise and stress their workforce. Good leadership management is about waiting as well as acting.
19. Continuous Development – Smart people have always sought out useful leadership books and learning material that will help them along the path to happiness and leadership. Most these days tend to be rather disappointing, but one brilliant idea that has recently captured my attention is The Ultimate Leadership Guide which contains all the core teachings of 30 top leadership books, which is simply an essential ‘crash course’ in the principles you need to know to further your career and even find happiness in other areas of your life!
18. Graft – A brilliant leadership trait is the trait of grafting. There’s a simple rule that most good leaders follow – always do the nastiest job yourself. While being able to delegate dire tasks to others is one of the perks of management, t is important that employees never actually question your dedication to work hard. By simply doing the famously nasty job yourself each year, your staff will never have a doubt over whether it’s fair you have the ability to delegate menial work.
17. Fairness/Equity - Fairness is one of the key criteria by which employees measure their superiors.Quite simply, if you don’t behave in an equitable manner at all times, you will lead no more than a rabble of reluctant workers, and will never gain their respect. Fairness is one of Herzberg’s ‘hygeine’ factors from his popular leadership theory. This means that if you are fair, employees will not be inherently motivated, but merely content. If however you act unfairly and break the rules, employees will be demotivated. Very little upside if you possess this trait but large potential negative effects on motivation if you lack it. Its a tough world, but the message is clear.
16. Modesty - An important note to remember is that in every team you lead, some will be envious of your job or position. These people are also often the most active, amibitious and productive members of the group, so it’s extremely important that you keep them onside. By being modest and humble, you minimise the potential for jealousy within the team, and inspire warmth and affection instead.
15. Appreciates Quality - Simple put, a good leader recognises that quality is the most important gauge of the work done. Always. A culture that cares little for quality will demotivate employees and reduce job satisfaction. Staff must be able to feel good about their work and their skills.
14. Sense of Humour - A practical reality for most leaders is that you’ll spend an awful lot of time in meetings or speaking in public. A good sense of humour helps to put across the message you want to convey more effectively and help smooth over awkward or tense moments in board meetings etc.
13. Wide Outlook – A good leadership trait is to be able to take a step back and take a look at the big picture. This is really one the main purpose of a leader, but so many managers instead choose to get bogged down in small decisions that should really be taken care of by someone else. While everyone is cleaning the deck and preparing the sails, somebody has to be looking where the ship is going.
12. Adaptability and Flexibility - A clear fact in life is that many things you enjoy will change, and many things you despise will quickly improve. As a leader, you must be able to cope with negative change, and also be able to quickly grab opportunities as soon as they appear. Less hesitation, and more asking the question “Ok, so how can I make the best of this situation”.
11. Human Understanding – A leader that can understand their employees and really be able to emphasis with the workforce or team as a whole will ultimately be a far more effective leader. Only by being able to put yourself in the shoes of your employees will you be able to make decisions that will enthuse and motivate your staff.
10. Clarity - Job roles and positions within companies can sometimes be at best – a complete mess. Business leadership is about separately and clearly identifying those roles and responsibilities and ensure that everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing.
9. Charisma – The skill of oratory has been perfectly demonstrated recently by Barrack Obama’s surge in popularity en route to the white house, and his continued popularity now that he has gained office. The ability to speak confidently and with meaning is a rare one, and carries much merit for those few who posess it. Increased influence and persuasion is just one of the positive benefits of being a leader with charisma.
8. Ability to Delegate – As I mentioned earlier, delegation is one of the perks of being promoted to a leadership position. Why is it then that so many leaders fail to delegate enough? Why do they continue to ‘meddle’ in small, trivial matters, and refuse to give subordinates the real responsibility and confidence to be able to make their own decisions? The answer is because it’s alot harder than you’d think to be able to properly delegate control to someone else. Especially the control over a job you’ve been doing yourself for many years. By undermining your subordinate’s ability to make decisions independently, you’re being a poor leader. That’s why the ability to delegate is one of my top 20 traits.
7. Calmness – Calmness is a leadership trait that again we could do with learning from President Obama. One of the most common pieces of praise I hear from President Obama is how he has stayed so calm under pressure. With the recession, middle east conflict and recent fiascos such as Swine Flu, Piracy and torture memos – it has sincerely impressed many that this man has been able to keep his composure and present a solid front. Any leader that can achieve this will instantly earn respect.
6. Ability to Listen – The fantastic leaders thorough history were also good listeners. Drawing upon the expertise and ideas of all those around you will improve your decision making. It follows that leaders who listen well simply make better decisions.
5. Confidence – Confidence flows through a team just like cheerfulness or a hardworking attitude. If the leader shows hesistation, self-doubt, or a lack of amibition, it will infect the rest of the team. Enthusiastically following an unconfident will really test employees attitude, and this is something you don’t want to be doing. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to enthusiastically follow your lead.
4. Consistency – This is a similar point to fairness. If you fail to be consistent with your attitude, decisions or behaviour, you will be causing unrest in your team.
3. Approachability & Friendliness – While many managers dream of being a superior and ‘feared’ leader, the most effective type of leader is an approachable one. A leader who an any employee can feel like they could have a conversation with will be able to hear about what the quiet dissenters have to say, or what the ‘real’ results of their latest intiative was.
2. Passion and Motivation – It goes without saying that a leadership trait that will be admired is your passion for what you do. Whatever your role, people will respect the fact that you take pride in your work, you enjoy it, and that you will therefore try your hardest to succeed.Passion and motivation will always trump formal leadership training or leadership coaching.
1. Trustworthiness -Ethics and trust has to come right at the top of the most important leadership traits for one simple reason. Nobody will obey, follow, or be inspired by someone they distrust. A good reputation, likeability and respect will be absolutely impossible if you’re labelled as a liar. Regardless of their own mal-practises, people will never be able to associate with an untrustworthy character.
The handshake of a leader has almost mythical status. Just last year there were reports of job seekers losing out on positions due to a weak handshake. To firm, to limp. The perfect handshake is something executives the world over are striving for, with some companies even providing handshake training to help budding leaders make that great first impression.
New research looks into what verifiable personality traits can be derived from ones handshake. Frank Bernieria and Kristen Petty screened the personality of some 300 students before selecting 10 with contrasting personality profiles.
These 10 people were then asked to introduce themselves to around 100 people, with either a handshake or a less formal greeting. The 100 people were then each asked to rank them in order of whether they were extraverted, neurotic, open, conscientious and agreeable.
So do handshakes reveal our personalities?
To begin with it’s worth pointing out that generally speaking our ability to perceive someone’s personality in such a short space of time is pretty rubbish, with the honourable exception being when someone is extraverted.
That said, when men got to shake hands with other men, their ability to gauge the personality of each other was considerably improved. Bernieri and Petty believe that a good handshake is a skill in the same way that riding a bicycle or learning a musical instrument is, and therefore that a good handshake requires a conscientious personality. They believed that conscientious men were better at handshaking, and this was reflected in the results of the study.
Also of interest was the finding that this is mainly a male issue. The handshake isn’t as important for women and therefore the link between handshake and personality was not found when women shook hands with each other. The researchers did however suggest that amongst business women the link may exist as they shake hands more frequently than most.
So whilst the handshake is not a cast iron glance into ones soul, it is nevertheless an opportunity to portray yourself in a positive light to the recipient, and therefore should not be one that is overlooked.
About the Author:
Adi Gaskell is the editor of The Management Blog for the Chartered Management Institute, a professional body for managers and leaders in the UK
The Chartered Management Institute has announced the results of its long search for the best of management texts made available in 2010. Launched in March 2010, in association with the British Library, the Insitute aimed to seek out the books that were really making an impact on british business people, as well as raise awareness of how management theory can be used in the workplace.
And the winner is…
The winner of the overall category for best management book of the year 2010 was Henry Mintzberg’s ‘Managing‘. Winner of Digital category was ‘The Future of Work’ by Richard Donkin. Winner of Innovation and Entrepreneurship category was ‘rEvolution: How to Thrive in Crazy Times‘. All of these titles are available for sale on the ever-cheap Amazon.co.uk through those links.
A hearty congratulations to all the winning leadership and management authors, but also to the other nominated works, which included no less than 13 titles. I’ve appended a list below for your perusal. As always, the titles are catchy, and the topics they convey appear as important and modern as you would expect from such a forward thinking industry.
The leadership illusion: the importance of context and connections by T. Hall and K. Janman
Fast track to success: project management ebook by Patrick Harper-Smith
Meet the new boss: the management book that comes with a soundtrack by Philip Whitely
How to lead by Jo Owen
ReWork: change the way you work forever by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
Leadership of Muhammad by John Adair
The world’s business cultures and how to unlock them by Barry Tomalin and Mike Nicks
The intuitive mind: profiting from the power of your sixth sense by Eugene Sadler-Smith
Brilliant business creativity: what the best creatives know, do and say by Richard Hall
Design driven innovation: changing the rules of competition by radically innovating what things mean by Roberto Verganti
Glimmer: how design can transform your business, your life and maybe even the world by Warren Berger
Supercorp: how vanguard companies create innovation, profits, growth and social good by Rosabeth Moss Kanter
I recommend you check out any of the above that you like the sound of. As nominees, these books were shortlisted out of the 100s of management titles that are produced each year, and therefore are probably very worthy of your time as they are of mine!
I thought I’d write today a short report on a silent revolution that is taking place in the way businesses are being managed at the ‘back end’.
If you’re a manager in a large company, you will probably be familiar with document management solutions. This describes the effective management of digital information. Such services can be outsourced or in-sourced (depending on organisation size) but regardless of the implementation, this area is fantastic at slashing admin costs and efficiency, particularly in finance departments.
“But naturally” you quip, “my ERP/Operating System may be a little buggy or annoying, but overall it manages our digital information perfectly fine, so why is this a ‘new’ and revolutionary idea?”
The answer lies in exactly what counts as digital information. 10 years ago, there was a clear divide between paperwork, and electronic information. However in today’s business environment, the line doesn’t even exist anymore. Digitisation companies can literally come in and scan your entire archive of invoices, orders and delivery notes onto your server. For your admin team, searching through filing cabinets becomes literally a thing of the past.
But such improvements don’t just save the fingertips of admin staff; they also improve the customer experience. Having near-instant access to customer forms and information will enable customer service reps to handle far more queries at the time of a call, rather than having to ‘get back to the customer’, which is inefficient and harms goodwill.
Such is the fast paced world of today, that many managers will digitalise their documents without giving much thought to the massive shift in the type of office work performed by administrative and technical staff as a result. With the acceleration of technological advancement at the speed it is, perhaps it is good that managers are not fazed by such a change!
If you’ve been following the financial press recently, you will have been informed about the recent sovereign debt crisis in Greece, Portugal, Spain and particularly in Ireland in recent days. Such a crisis is having profound repercussions upon the business communities in each of these countries, and indeed in all Eurozone (and too an extent, non-Eurozone) countries as well.
In such situations, businesses face increased borrowing costs through no fault of their own. For a temporary period, the performance of the business becomes severely detached from the efforts of management, which can lead to demotivation and a frustrated workforce, already nervous due to the threat of further job losses. If someone were to say that no leadership style would be ‘perfect’ for this type of situation, I would actually agree with them. Sometimes economic conditions do throw you an uncatchable ball.
However, there is one thing business leaders can be doing to mitigate the damage this macro-economic crisis is causing.
Management need to balance transparency and secrecy when times are hard. I’ve seen many new-age authors that recommend management should be completely transparent such that employees can trust them more. However, there are some truths during times of hardship, that would have direct and indirect costs to the business if management were to fully inform staff of the difficulties the business is facing. For instance, companies that enter financial distress and make this clear to their employees, will see a flight of talent as the employable and ambitious employees (particularly middle management) seek to jump ship before bankruptcy nears. This will only compound an difficulties and reduce the chances of a swift recovery.
On the other hand, this downturn represents an opportunity for executives to be frank and open with employees, and almost issue the bad news as a ‘challenge’ to staff to rise up and meet. This is best practiced when a company is still profitable, but is facing unprecedented downward pressures on sales and upward pressures on costs. The strength and passion of a company’s employees in this case, to fight to maintain the margin may be a natural consequence of management issuing the challenge to staff. A good example of this in practice are professional service firms such as the Magic Circle law firms and the Big Four accounting firms, who are all currently profitable, but at far lower levels than 3 years ago, and whom will need to rely on the innovation, hard work, and persistence of its employees to turn round the tables.
So as I have demonstrated, if rather simplistically, a senior manager needs to assess the condition of a company and its employees very carefully before deciding on just how much to disclose. Of course, a severely failing company will not be able to cover up its problems indefinitely, as employees will notice the tell-tale signs, but management can very much destroy the value it gets from its workforce by disclosing too much with the wrong tone.
|“Going forward…”||This effortless phrase has given british management 2 extra seconds of thinking time since 2001, or even longer if one can over exagerate the vowels.|
|“Out of the box thinking”||Because just ‘thinking’ will never bring success.|
|“Lets touch base”||It’s an awkwardly personal sounding request that almost always results in a monologue email.|
|“Strategic Fit”||Managers uttering this phrase have clearly read their ‘Good Management’ manual and discovered that this is apparantly important for all projects. If only we knew how so.|
|“Synergy”||Is it possible that one keyword can increase the impact of a presentation by 77%? Yes, indeed there is.|
|“Value added”||Adding value is a common sense concept that has recently taken to the board room in force, reminding us that yes, some managers do understand how business works.|
|“Holistic approach”||It’s like saying nothing but at the same time, saying… nothing.|
|“Leverage”||Yes leverage was technically the reason why the banking crisis was so extreme, but I doubt managers would have time to reflect upon this fact, as they have meetings to attend you know!|
|“Knowledge Base”||Why have a razor when you can have a Mach 3 Turbo? In the same line of thought, its obviously why people don’t talk of simple ‘knowledge’ anymore. Where’s the macho?|
|“Proactive”||Easily the most overused word by candidates in job interviews, and mysteriously the most lacking characteristic in successful graduate recruits.|
|“Lets get a dialogue going”||Well, you can… do that. I’ll talk instead.|
|“Mission critical”||Were you one of the 99% minority who didn’t realise that their admin work was tremendously vital to ‘the mission’? You’ll soon be convinced otherwise with this solid reaffirmation.|
|“Networking”||Theory is; if you don’t know something, you’ll probably know at least one person who will provide you with a fantastic excuse for not knowing it.|
Some Terrible Real-Life Examples:
“This year has seen significant negative growth” (they lost money).
“We need a holistic, cradle-to-grave approach. “
“I’m a one-stop nexus for your outsourcing mandate” (consultant pitching to a client).
“Our organisation has an end-to-end governance framework .”
How to best control your company finance is often a hot topic of discussion, however there are many simple, yet effective ways of managing your cash that often go unnoticed. I will detail what I feel are the most important tips, to help you show leadership, by effectively managing your company finances.
You can lead by example by using a business credit card. Business credit cards help build trust in a company by allowing your employees to use your credit card when purchasing supplies. The one problem that may arise here is if you are worried that an employee may misuse your card. Many business credit card providers appreciate this fact and they offer insurance that covers you against any exploitation of company finances.
Business credit cards also open doors to many supplier and purchase discounts, meaning they could help you to save a lot of money. Using your business credit card helps build your business credit profile (different from your personal credit score) which in turn helps to build your company reputation and credibility.
Successful Planning – Monitoring Finances
Effective management of your company finances comes first from successful planning, which in turn leads to successful execution. You should always monitor your company finances to ensure you have an idea of what your income and expenditure should be for a given time. This way you are always aware of any changes in your finances, and for whatever the reason for the change you can then act on it.
If when monitoring your finances you realise you have spent too much in a given time period, then ask yourself why and come up with a solution. If you are finding this process hard, try and identify what the exact problem is and brainstorm a list of possible ideas that you feel may put an end to the problem.
If when monitoring your cash-flow you realise you have made more money than you expected to make, then that’s great; you can now identify why and reap the rewards, you should always try to build on the positives!
Your company should always have a budget, if you haven’t got one, then set one up. Work out your budget yearly (taking into account any dates where you will need to spend more than others) and divide by 12 to give you a monthly figure.
It is important when detailing your budget to be thorough and honest while noting down any expenditure you have. With regards to income, you can set up a forecast of what you feel your company will make in the next 12 months. Then divide this figure by 12 to give you a monthly average. Your forecast enables you to predict what you aim for your company to achieve based on previous years figures. You can then deduct your expenditure from your income and work out how much you have left for flexible cash.
You can then decide what you would like to do with the flexible amount of cash you have left. You could decide to keep all of the cash for use if and when you need it. Or you can decide to reinvest a portion of the money back into the company for any changes you need to make.
If when working out your budget you realise that you may struggle for the year ahead, then take action now. Identify where you can save money, whether it be through your utilities or supplies and save as much as you can to get your forecast looking healthy again.
Showing leadership with regards to your company finances helps build trust in the workplace, which makes for a better working relationship with your employees.
Article written by Andreas Nicolaides – a company finance expert for UK based MoneySupermarket.com.
The conference takes the form of a daytime session running from 9:30 to 5:50. The day is filled with inspiration speakers, spaced adequately with coffee breaks and a gormet buffet lunch. This is followed by an exquisite black tie ‘Gold Medal Dinner’ in the evening with a keynote speaker. A thoroughly enjoyable and inspirational day to be had.
Not only will the Conference give you a unique opportunity to take inspiration from our exciting speakers but with the chance to debate the key issues of the day as well as maintain and expand your network, this one day conference will enable you to take away an invaluable insight on the latest management and leadership issues.
1. Bring away strategies, ideas and insight from leaders at the top of their field.
2. ‘Once-a-year’ networking opportunities
3. Be inspired by motivational speakers
4. Enjoy the finest in hospitality from a landmark hotel.
5. Meet top CMI executives and staff.
|8:00 to 9:30||Registration, Coffee & Exhibition.|
|9:30 to 10:20||Terry Morgan CBE (President of CMI) and Ruth Spellman OBE (Chief Executive CMI) will discuss the key attributes that leaders of tomorrow need to equip themselves with.|
|10:20 to 11:05||Mike Southon, Political & business columnist, Financial Times. Hear why political leadership really makes a difference; what lessons businesses can learn from politics; and how political leadership helps shape economies.|
|11.35 to 12.15||Rob Law, CEO, Magmatic Design. After suffering Theo Paphitis breaking the strap of his ‘Trunki’ ride-on child’s suitcase on Dragon’s Den, Rob Law could have thrown in the towel. Rob explains what drove him on to success and how he made the Dragons regret their decision.|
|12.15 to 12.30||Lord Eatwell, Director, Centre for Financial Analysis & Policy will offer a whistle-stop tour of the fourth of our research papers examining managers’ views on the economy, looking for evidence that employee and customer engagement has contributed positively to the overall economic outlook.|
|12.30 to 13.30||Lunch & exhibition|
|13.30 to 14.10||Stephen Howard, CEO Business in the Community. There has never been a more important time to create a new era of responsible business leadership. Stephen Howard discusses how this can be done through the balancing of short-term needs, longterm- value creation and the continuing demands of a fast changing society and business environment.|
|14.10 to 14.50||Karren Brady, Vice Chairman, West Ham United FC and judge of ‘The Apprentice. Whether you are running a company, a department, a section or a football club, leaders and managers make decisions every day. Every decision made has an effect on others. This session looks at the importance of engagement and teamwork when making decisions, whether they are world changing or just procedural.|
|14.50 to 15.20||Coffee & exhibition.|
|15.20 to 16.20||Jo Salter, UK’s first female fighter pilot. This session looks at the drivers behind leadership. What shapes individuals into the ‘type’ of people they are, how to nurture your belief systems and how to see all challenges as surmountable.|
|16.20 to 17.05||Chris Moon MBE, Former army officer and motivational speaker. He’s survived kidnap, threatened execution, being blown up, losing his limbs and most of his blood. He ran a marathon less than a year after leaving hospital, and proved that the impossible is more usually the improbable. Chris will share his vision and inspire delegates to take back a new attitude to their everyday work.|
|17.50 to 17.30.||Daytime Conference concludes|
|19.00 to 19.30||President’s drinks reception|
|19.30 to 23.30||National Management & Leadership Awards Ceremony. Celebrating the best and brightest in management and leadership with the highest accolades awarded in our field. Enjoy a lavish meal in an exquisite environment for an unforgettable evening.|
Last year’s national conference set a very high standard for this year’s organisers to compete with! The iconic calendar date was set in the London Hilton Metropole – a fabulous venue for a fabulous event. The speakers kept their slots to a 40 minute average, which kept the information concise and easy on the listeners.
The 2009 conference was also the stage for the unveiling of the new CMI Brand, which transformed the organisation from ‘The Chartered Management Institute’ to the shorter and catchier ‘CMI’ acronym. This move is part of a wider effort to increase the CMI’s presence on a national level, and facilitate the growth of awareness surrounding it’s Chartered Manager qualification.
The standard and quality of the speakers was impressive in 2009, as you can see from the video below which shows the motivational session with René Carayol we experience at last years conference.
The CMI left nothing to spare with its handouts. Upon arriving, delegates received several insight reports and note-taking materials bound within a professional portfolio case. Reports included ‘Age Isn’t An Issue‘, ‘Leadership for a Low-Carbon Future’, and an exclusive economic report prepared by Lord Eatwell (Director, Centre for Financial Analysis & Policy). These definitely left me with plenty to read and ponder over after the event had concluded!
With media attention already being drawn to this years event, the pressure is certainly on to create another rich and rewarding experience, bringing together the engaged members of a 86,000 member strong organisation, which contains over 560 Chairman and CEOs.
In conclusion, The National Conference 2010 promises to be bigger and better than any before. I’m looking forward to being inspired by the speakers on offer, and can’t wait to enjoy the annual Management and Leadership awards ceremony, an event not to be missed.
If you wish to purchase tickets for the CMI’s National Conference 2010, 14/10/10. Please contact us, detailing your request, and we will attempt to negotiate preferential rates with the CMI on your behalf.
|Standard Pricing & Options (Starting from just £250)||Member (£)||Non member (£)|
|Conference day only||250.00||500.00|
|Gold Medal Dinner only||85.00||125.00|
|Gold Medal Dinner table for 10 (20% discount for non members)||850.00||1000.00|
- Adrian Kingswell ~ Superintendent, National Policing Improvement Agency.
Team morale is a massively important element of motivation and is also a key driver of productivity. If you can manage the morale of your team effectively, you can help them produce results in a way that will be as fulfilling for them as it is for you. Different team members with different personalities in different roles will respond to some morale-boosting tips better than others, so please don’t use this guide as a checklist. Be selective, and tailor your strategy to which you think your subordinate or team members would love.
1. Keep employees informed to tackle ‘them and us’ attitude
The retail industry (among many others) suffer from a ‘them and us’ culture, where employees increasingly see management as standing against them. This culture explains the high absenteeism, shocking employee turnover and extreme demoralisation that some retail giants (See: Walmart) suffer from. A communication defficiency between the organisational layers is the main cause of this problem. Elect to be up-front with employees, discussing problems and storms on the horizon as they’re discovered, and not after decisions have been made.
2. Explain the value and benefit to the business they’re creating
A workers morale is derived from the value they believe they’re creating. In this way, a director of a multinational corporation will have a serious morale surplus! However, a cashier at a fast food chain may not feel as well-endowed. Naturally, these grass-root positions in organisations still create plenty of value for the company though, and it pays to remind their occupants of this fact. A manager could, for example let a cashier see how many sales they’ve put through the till that week. It will likely be an impressive figure reaching into four digits for a full-time employee, and may let them impress themselves!
3. Deliver proper training
When your employees are being trained, are they simply thrown in front of a TV and told to sit through a dull and dated video? Or do they get to be coached one-on-one by a consultant, and put through a personalised and well-tailored training programme? A thorough and professional training scheme will fill employees with a sense of empowerment and self-respect. The thought that a company is investing time and expenses into developing their skills will remarkably improve their morale. For existing employees, consider a 2-day training excursion to refresh competencies and update their knowledge with recent market/company changes.
Training schemes are often out of the control of operational manager, and are ‘slotted into’ the induction programme by senior HR managers. However, if you’re in a small company, you may have sizeable influence over the structure of these training programmes. When it comes to budgets and spending, hotel & travel costs will quickly become astronomical if you choose a distant venue. My advice is to hire a local venue that will take employees out of their workplace, but will not require overnight accomodation. This is the key to receive value for money on training programmes, and will allow you to spend more on top quality talent to train your staff!
4. Consider worker’s outside lives by being flexible
Employees flex their lifestyles to fit their jobs with mixed success. Some people, especially young, single professionals manage to get by fine. However those with many responsibilities, including looking after family simply loose a grip on a sensible balance between fun & meaningful activities, and their career. Employ these ‘common sense’ policies into effect today, to create a positive change:
- Allow reasonable personal calls to be made during working hours.
- Use your discretion in allowing employees to leave earlier or arrive later than normal, with the understanding that the hours will be made up later.
- Put money torwards a medical treatment for a parent’s sick child.
5. Treats and team building exercises
I’d describe treats and team building days as ‘expensive and reliable’. Whether you see them as reliable or not, will depend on what you expect to get from them. If you expect a white-water-rafting day to cohesively give your organisation a firm sense of direction, then you probably need to take your head out of the glossy brochure. If however, you would like to encourage positive behaviour you’ve seen recently, and allow a disjointed, new team a little room to gel as a productive unit, then you could be making a wise investment.
6. Suggestion schemes (for large companies with many employees per manager/shop)
The notion that suggestion boxes are somewhat impersonal is a catastrophic understatement. Suggestion boxes are completely impersonal, and don’t directly help the relationship between management and employees. The cloak of anonymity can encourage people to be reckless, hurtful and careless with what they say.
Question: Why did these old-fashioned boxes make it on my list?
Answer: Because they actually work.
Indeed, despite what I’ve said; suggestion boxes do their job rather well. They’re not there to let employees vent anger, or for managers to gleefully ignore. They’re there to take a poll of employee sentiment, feelings, and pick up some of their ideas. I want you to think about the revolutionary (pun intended) element of the 360 feedback exercise. The key element is that you also get feedback from those beneath you, and a suggestion box is a simple way to do this that has been around a long time before such buzz words were ever printed. You need to be disciplined to encourage the use of a suggestion box. You must not let positive comments fill your ego, nor let the angry or hateful words trash your whole strategy. Gather plenty of responses about the exact topic in question, (be sure to ask for constructive ideas alongside any comments) and sit down in a professional fashion and see what you can incorporate into the working environment.
Expert™ Tip: Don’t look up for support
The green flag from a board of directors to go crazy with employee entertainment and training budgets is an recurring fantasy, but don’t hope for it. Don’t resent those ‘fat cats’ for not even supporting a practical, cheap and (in your opinion) worthwhile training project. Instead, become a manager that others will respect. In the face of an old fashioned and top-heavy corporate culture, make your own success in building morale.
You don’t need permission from your boss to tell Jessica how well hard you know she worked last saturday. You don’t need a dual-sign off on a anniversary card to give to an intern graduate you recruited precisely 1 year ago. Morale comes from the heart, and no board member, no chairman and certainly no accountant can stop you in leading your team to new highs of morale.
To Your Success in Achieving Higher Morale!
Simon Oates ~ Leadership Expert
‘The Fast Subject’ is a concept that many managers struggle to really get their head round. Chosen as one of the best in class, I’m proud to publish this fine example of a leadership essay from one of the top universities in the UK.
How the concept ‘fast subject’ (Thrift, 2000) embodies the idealised cultural image of success for management in the 21st century.
Thrift’s (2000) paper portrays a very distinct idea of the modern Western world; both as a whole and the world of work. It is key to remember that management feeds from the wider cultural environment – the world; it is not standing alone by itself. We need to know what is going on in the world to see what is going on in management, for example, assessment centres could be seen as the ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ of the world of work. Thrift also describes the ‘fast subject’, i.e. the manager that is capable of functioning effectively in this world; the author uses language such as “knowledge”, “creativity”, “innovation” and “younger” in relation to the fast subject and “faster”, “uncertain”, “performance” to describe the habitat of this modern subject. When discussing the fast subject, it is important not to overlook the environment in which the subject lives/works; it had been argued that managers are “the products of (increasingly engineered) circumstance” (Thrift, 2000 p. 677).
The ideal of the ‘fast subject’ embodies success in modern Western culture, according to Thrift’s (2000 p.678) paper, “the fast subject is a ‘style’ that many managers often want to attain”; advertisements for graduate careers and jobs have specific ideals so people aspire to meet the criteria. These job adverts are made by people like us for us; fast subject to fast subject. The advertisements speak to us, these people that companies are looking for are management’s idea of success, so this is what we strive for, this is the reason we go to university and get part time jobs and internships – it’s the ideal of work (and life) in the future.
The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers guide is the perfect collection of evidence of the idealised cultural image of success for management in the 21st century; the companies and jobs are portrayed using the language of the fast subject, they give the idea of mobility, youth, being trendy and modern. The three following examples have been taken from this guide.
The first example, taken from The Times guide is Lidl’s (p. 30) Graduate Management Programme advertisement. This advertisement uses all the language and buzz words of the ‘fast subject’ and 21st century culture, such as “star qualities”, “lead and inspire” and “world-class”. Thrift (2000 p. 680) makes the point that management events are “making the ‘invisible visible’” i.e. trying to measure and teach these intangible “star qualities” such as leadership and creativity. This gives the idea that these personality traits that make up a successful person can be taken on by a company, measured and nurtured, and will enable continued or increased success. This is attractive to the ‘fast subject’ because of the intangibility; other people in the world do not possess these qualities, only the elite ideal that management has created has the potential to have these traits inside of them. The fact they cannot be defined, taught of learned as well as simple things such as how to work a piece of machinery makes them special and anything that sets you above others in our culture is something we have been brought up to strive towards.
It is clear that quite a significant amount of thought goes into graduate recruitment, as management want to get the best people into their company and at the moment, the ‘fast subject’ is that person, and they respond to specific known language and images. Graduates are the future of management and at the minute the people coming out of universities are educated to be the way management wants them to be, i.e. Thrift’s subject. They have the most current and up-to-date knowledge and education on what management wants and are either taught the skills or are taught how to perform as though they possess them. It is probably that Lidl know that culturally, young and modern members of generation Y will not have them as their first choice employer, it will be somewhere trendy like Apple therefore they have to offer the chance to develop the skills that management as a whole wants, i.e. ‘fast subject’ skills.
The word “star” suggests that Lidl are looking for someone special, in modern day society we are obsessed with stars and celebrities; this advertisement says that you can be the “star” of the business world and gain all the associated benefits such as money to fund the lifestyle of this creature, but also the social benefits such as respect and interest from others.
Cadbury’s (p. 91) graduate jobs advertisement in the guide shows a reminder of the popular gorilla television advert for the firm’s products. This image links to our culture, what is cool and modern, again showing the link between the world of management and society overall. It is also recent, showing that it is aimed at young professionals who can do it all; they can gain a good degree whilst also being aware of what is going on socially around them. Along with using the expected language, the text includes the word “brand” which attracts prospective employees because they want to work for this company so when they tell people where they work, the people will know where it is and be interested.
At the bottom of this advertisement, it says “we love what we do. We think you will too”; this is typical of the view that the ‘fast subject’ holds of work, it is no longer simply a job, it is something you want to do when you get up in the morning. The job will not necessarily be as good as it sounds, but the words and pictures used appeal to the ‘fast subject’. Even those graduates with no interest in the world of management would find this appealing as the language used spills out into the rest of our culture as the language of a successful subject.
In modern society, there is increasing focus on the self; the improvement of the self, with models such as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and reaching self-actualisation. We want to succeed at work, but to also have time to have a social life and spend the money we earn – this is one measure of success; we want to have time to have everything. Cadbury promises a graduate scheme that is “individual” and “personalised” therefore that must mean the ‘fast subject’ can not only thrive at work but they can also go out into the world and show it how successful they are, with their cars, homes and technologies. The text itself actually says “you’ll succeed”, which implies Cadbury (like the rest of the world) knows the measure of success and that it is applicable to all ‘fast subjects’.
The final point to make is that there is a disclaimer at the top of the page, stating “no gorillas were harmed in the making of this advert” which is an obvious point, so why make it? This goes back to the cool and trendy culture that we live in where we appreciate humour and making things that little bit less serious. This says, Cadbury is cool and who would not want to work there, if everyone wants to work there then those that do are successful; the successful ones are the ones that speak the language – the ‘fast subject’.
The final example has few, but still significant, words. Sky (p. 209) wants graduates to “discover your ideal habitat” which is a word frequently used when it comes to the ‘fast subject’. This new, mysterious creature needs a habitat in which to work, so Sky is saying they can offer this; it is not an office, it is not a workplace – the language draws the audience in; it is why the ‘fast subject’ finds it appealing. As management initiated the creation of this so-called ‘fast subject’ and the necessary traits and attributes it should only be right that management provides the perfect place for this new being to prosper.
The page gives no description of what Sky are looking for; it is implicit with the word “habitat”, this signals that they are looking for something different and unique, else they would have simply used the world workplace as essentially, that is what this so-called “habitat” is. Sky are looking for management’s creation of a successful human type that is so intelligent and culturally aware that they will know Sky wants them, so there is no need to explicitly state what is required. It gives the impression that Sky is superior, as it does not have to list what it wants from its applicants therefore the people that apply will know the appropriate language to use if they are a ‘fast subject’ so these are the people to consider as they will be suited to the “habitat”.
The phrase “make great leaps” obviously goes with the picture of the frog but to the ‘fast subject’ says Sky will allow you to become even more successful in your work life by quickly progressing, possibly onto promotions; showing that you are successful. As a culture we value language like this as it is a little bit different, not as mundane and ordinary as saying ‘you could get better and get promoted’.
The image itself gives the impression of being High Definition as it is very colourful and detailed; something a ‘fast subject’ comes to expect as they are successful in life therefore can afford such luxuries as HD televisions. The colours catch peoples’ attention, which is necessary to catch the interest of the ‘fast subject’ as they have so much potential inside of them, they want to be wanted as they could work in any of these fast paced environments. Regardless of where we begin in life, we all want to be successful and happy; no one grows up aspiring to live in poverty while watching how the ‘other half’ of society lives their lives. Sky understands what the ‘fast subject’ wants from life and work and therefore offers it in a way that would appeal to them, as management has created them this way.
The ‘fast subject’ links to the performance society we live in, these images, amongst others show us what the ideal model of success is and even if we do not fit this model, we can create a part of ourselves; a performance that does meet this given criteria. For example, we believe working for Lidl will make us successful, Lidl wants us to be “self-confident individuals” so that is what we are to them. This is the reason that we have come to the stage in society that we have; management knows what it wants and puts that out to the world, there are very few people out there that actually fulfil all the conditions so people pretend to be that; they perform. Eventually, with this happening so much, many more people aspire to this ideal which seems to be so good, however it is probably so impressive as it is all an act – it is like striving for perfection, even though we know we will never reach it.
These examples were chosen from the same book and are of the same media, so it is possible to compare them. They are all different, but possibly equally effective at attracting a ‘fast subject’ and potentially allowing them to reach a successful level in life. As a whole, the advertisement produced by Lidl is quite simple but it is straight to the point; it is ‘fast’ and the language is very important. Language however, is more important in the Cadbury advertisement, as there is more of if; therefore there are more of the buzz words and promises, however it would take longer to read than the other two. Finally, Sky are obviously aware of the language that society views as the language of successful management and use it. The image is clean and simple in the Lidl piece, whereas Cadbury’s is busy and the one from Sky is quite striking.
It does not matter what the design of the advertisement is like; the point is how or why they take off and are deemed as the image of success within western twenty first century society, culture and management. One thing that all these illustrations have in common is that they are all about “you” (the subject) not “us” (the business); they want to help you develop and become successful and in modern culture that is what we want, we think constantly about the self and could possibly overlook what we are expected to do for them. But this does not matter; success is about working for that well known company, taking on responsibilities and being where you feel you should be.
The idea of the ‘fast subject’ is merely a concept put forward by Thrift to explain what has happened within business and management this century. Brooks on the other hand, questions and mocks the myths of management with a sarcastic tone; it could be argued his viewpoint of the creature within the world of management is of the complete opposite of Thrift’s.
Brooks (2004) gives his opinion on what Thrift would call the ‘fast subject’ using very similar vocabulary, but a very different tone. “They are obsessed, they are passionate, they are driven, and they are totally nuts” (p. 216) and that “what matters is energy, discipline and focus” (p. 218). Brooks then goes on to tell a story about a modern businessman’s attachment to his mobile telephone (pp. 234-5) which is much less glamorous than the picture Thrift paints.
In a previous book, Bobos in Paradise (2000 p.104) Brooks describes “Latte Towns” which is where the ‘fast subject’ (or as Brooks describes them, “new upscale culture”) would live. The descriptions, such as “magnificent natural settings” makes the place sound very appealing and is where we as a culture would want to live if we could afford to do so, i.e. if we were a ‘fast subject’ and therefore successful. Although this is said with a negative tone, it is Brooks’ description of the ideals in the twenty first century world.
Overall, the idea of success within management has made its way out into the wider cultural context of the 21st century; what management views as a successful person is now what we in society believe to be a successful person. The vocabulary and images such as the high flier with the modern gadgets and the cool career in a well known popular branded business are no longer simply within the world of management.
Management has, over time, created the image of the ideal person to work in the increasingly fast paced business environment; they created this being so they know what it wants. Profits are the most important thing to most companies therefore if they can find a group of individuals who are motivated, dedicated etc. they have gained knowledge and the potential to increase profits. Management puts out this ideal, which Thrift calls the ‘fast subject’, to the world so the world begins to see this ideal and believe that is what successful looks like. In modern society, right now, the ‘fast subject’ is what we aim to be; it is the embodiment of success in the world of management. It has to be considered though, when we will move on and when the era of the ‘fast subject’ will end and whether it will end well. Thrift (2000 p.675) does not ignore the fact that ‘fast subjects’ “may well turn out to be fragile subjects, held together only at a cost”; all that is left is for the rest of the world to realise. Management created this subject; it is entirely possible that management will destroy it or the image too.
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Brooks, D. (2000) Bobos in Paradise , New York: Touchstone
Brooks, D. (2004) On Paradise Drive, New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks
The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers 2009-2010 (2009) High Fliers Publications
Thrift, N. (2000) ‘Performing Cultures in the New Economy’ in DuGay P. and Pryke M. Cultural Economy, London: Sage