In our latest advice column for City AM, Debrett’s Academy director Rupert Wesson advocates coaching for effective leadership.
Q:I have worked in a very old-school financial services company for most of my career and I have now been promoted to a relatively senior position in which I run a series of cross-sector teams. I have always thought the leadership in the company was old-fashioned and I think that this is holding the company back. My main concern is that it is hierarchical and decisions are made from the top down with very little scope to challenge things. I now have a chance to change things with my teams, but I don’t know how to take the first step in the right direction.
A: In the not-so distant past, it was the norm for leaders to be distant and dogmatic, and to have all the answers. They would make decisions for their team who would obligingly follow orders. It sounds like you are still exposed to quite a lot of this. What is perhaps most important is that society is becoming less deferential, and the workplace is reflecting this change. Many leaders have realised that this top-down approach twenty first century, although it does not stop many others persisting with it.
Before you think about developing your style, start by examining how you go about things now. There are a couple of key questions you need to answer: first, how often do your team come to you for advice, versus how often do they come asking for permission? Second, ask yourself how often you provide instructions versus how often you work collaboratively towards finding a solution. In addition to scoring yourself, it wouldn’t be unheard of to ask your team how you are doing! Read more…