IF you put “Leadership book” into your search engine there are hundreds of results. Everyone is talking about Leadership, and there is certainly a demand for reading it all. Everywhere you look on social media someone is quoting a leadership book.

How many of us are actually putting this into practice though? Productivity is continuing to decline in the UK, and, in my experience, the quality of leaders is integral to company performance, productivity and growth. This is backed up by the Chartered Management Institute which shows that leadership development leads to a 23 per cent increase in organisational performance, and a 32 per cent increase in employee engagement.

Personally, I think we’re just coming out of an era where people were being treated as a commodity in business, and we forgot to nurture and embrace the human element for too long. Egos got in the way. This has had a devasting impact on workplace culture and it’s going to take a long time and effort to turn it around.

Is Leadership the key?

We all know that Artificial Intelligence is on the rise, but at present it lacks the ability to be creative, innovative and empathetic to others. There is no better time than now to maximise on this opportunity, and businesses should be encouraging those behaviours and attributes to increase its productivity and general company performance.

That’s where leaders come in. A leader nowadays doesn’t always lead from the front, they are agile enough to lead from the back and encourage people to pave their own way, be creative and generate ideas in line with the company’s overarching vision.

What are the main qualities of a great leader? If you were to concentrate on five key areas, I suggest the following:

1. Enthusiasm – Leaders have endless enthusiasm for their business, its vision and people. It’s sincere enthusiasm, not that fake positivity that people spot a mile off. Sincere enthusiasm is contagious. Having an enthusiastic team that understands exactly what it needs to deliver, is half the battle.

2. Integrity – Doing the right thing is critical to company success. Sometimes this means doing things that may impact the bottom line but positively impact customer service, company reputation and the quality of the product or service. Having integrity builds trust, one of the most important elements of an effective working relationship.

3. Decision making – Effective leaders can make decisions at the drop of a hat. They assess risk, gather data and make an informed decision in a timely manner. Procrastination has no place here, and, when the wrong decisions are made a great leader will hold themselves to account and always learn from their mistakes.

4. People management skills – Leaders don’t wake up one day and become a great leader. They have taken accountability for their own learning and development. They have invested time and effort into practising how to motivate, inspire, mentor and coach others. It requires dedication, and great leaders enjoy doing it. This is not an add-on to their jobs, it is their job.

5. Loyalty – True loyalty is reciprocal, and leaders understand that. Loyalty is all about making sure people have the all the skills, support and resources to do their job. Great leaders will also back their teams in crisis and conflict. Employees who feel loyalty towards them will be loyal in return.

One of the biggest rewards in my job, as a HR professional, is coaching and developing leaders. Nothing gives me greater job satisfaction than seeing teams go from a bunch of people who just so happen to cohabit space while at work, to high performing teams smashing their deliverables whilst having fun.

I’m not only passionate about how great Leadership directly contributes to the productivity and profitability of a business, but more importantly the positive impact it has on people, working relationships, their health and wellbeing, and life in general.

That’s why we are proud sponsors of The Leadership category for the Carlisle Living Awards this year. Good luck to the finalists: Jane Meek, Corporate Director of Economic Development at Carlisle City Council; Professor Julie Menell, Vice Chancellor at the University of Cumbria; and Kate Willard, Director of Partnership Development at Stobart Group and Carlisle Lake District Airport.

Realise HR Ltd supports businesses, of all sizes, to grow and outperform their competitors by recruiting, developing and retaining talent. Our purpose is to enable business growth by developing great places to work. Our HR consultants are people experts, commercially-minded, and have proven track records in adding value to businesses. Get in touch if you would like to find out more how we can help you and your business.

Claire McLean, owner of Realise HR Ltd


Telephone: 07753 654066