Introduction to the role of the change leader

In a nutshell . . .

Explaining and understanding the nature of good leadership is probably easier than practising it. Good leadership requires deep human qualities, beyond conventional notions of authority.

Successful leaders are an enabling force, helping people and organisations to perform and develop. This requires the leader to be able to understand and meet the needs of the people as well as the aims and objectives of the organisation.

More importantly, good leadership requires attitudes and behaviours which inspire, motivate and encourage people to become the best that they can be.

Enabling and supporting others is fundamental to the leadership role and whereas ineffective leaders tend to invert this principle, believing, even insisting, that the leader must be supported by the people, effective leaders strive to enable, encourage and support the people in the organisation bringing them together in a common purpose of achieving shared objectives and promoting a culture of innovation and improvement.

It is unsurprising that enlightened leadership often plays a key role in driving workplace innovation within enterprises. Leadership theory is highly contested, but leadership development has gained increasing prominence through business schools, professional institutions and consultancy.

Early leadership theories were primarily focused on the distinction between “task focus” and “people orientation” and this remains a useful distinction. More recently theories are less concerned with the central, charismatic individual but focus on leadership as a creative and collective process where leadership is co-created through dialogue with and between employees and where employees are empowered to take initiative and contribute to decision making. “Shared and distributed leadership” is a key element of workplace innovation because it focuses on releasing the full range of employee knowledge, skills, experience and creativity. It means that workplace culture and practice provide everyone with the opportunity to take the lead in areas which reflect their own expertise or initiative, whether strategic, innovative or operational, while understanding and aligning their actions with those of others.

Leadership is therefore a collaborative, or Co-Created  process. It is not dependent on individual charisma or authority but creates shared direction and purpose through organisation-wide opportunities for strategic thinking, shared reflection and learning, and employee voice in decision-making.

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