I couldn’t resist the play on words. As something of a skirmish has been raging in the media this week concerning the 22 June 2010 emergency budget and the condition of the UK economy…the dark clouds of a double-dip recession appear to be billowing our way from across the Atlantic Ocean. Co-synchronously, the state of public sector leadership capability has also entered the fray – see an article by Claire Churchard, of People Management magazine, ‘Leadership Challenge as budget cuts bite’ (page 6 July 2010).
Picking up the nautical captaincy theme, a related question emerges for me about public sector leadership…are we more like Captain Bligh (infamous for his team mutiny) or Captain Cook, intrepid explorer who led his crew to wonderful new discoveries – notching up the first European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands?
The Captain leads the team into uncharted territory, taking calculated risk, seeking out new environments and new ideas for the philanthropic good of society – isn’t that analogous to the current public sector leadership challenge?
New research from Ashridge Management Centre (Ashridge Magazine, issue 4, pp 23-25, summer 2010) reflects the current leadership state, albeit the Ashridge Management Index (AMI) covers all UK sectors, comprising of 1,200 senior and middle managers a survey respondents. The survey is longitudinal – having gathered data since 1994.
The results are revealing. Over 50% of respondents expressed concern that top leaders do not spend sufficient time communicating with employees. Those working in smaller organisations showed more positivity that we will achieve business benefits from transformation. Perhaps most telling of all, the AMI shows that those respondents who feel motivated, answered more favourably on any other survey areas including the ability of top leadership.
So do you think we are about to set sail, or are we stranded in dry dock?