What Your Leaders Do Is Crucial To Business Success!

Kathryn Nawrockyi, Director Opportunity Now









Blog by Kathryn Nawrockyi, Director, Opportunity Now

The top reason employees give for leaving their job is lack of faith in the leadership, says one report. Today we are launching video blogs from two senior business leaders that emphasise that Inclusive Leadership is more business critical than ever. The results from Benchmark Recruit’s survey of over 3,000 employees are surprising in that they show rather than quitting over pay, the majority of people hand in their notice because they don’t have faith in their boss (22%), feel unappreciated (19%) and are disengaged in their work (19%). However, a lack of financial rewards was the fourth most common reason given at just under 13% of respondents.

Richard Bull, Executive Director - End User Services at Fujitsu, argues that inclusive leadership allows business to capture and harness all the talent available, and while embedding inclusive leadership is a challenge, those organisations that do are the most successful. Opportunity Now research in partnership with Shapiro Consulting found that inclusive leaders get the best out of all their people, helping their organisations to succeed in today's diverse, global environment. By building strong relationships and diverse teams, inclusive leaders are able to increase productivity, performance and engagement with staff and customers. Our survey found 84% of respondents said their inclusive leader made them feel more motivated and 83% said their inclusive leader increased their loyalty to their team, leader and organisation.

Not only do employees need to feel valued and engaged to get the best out of them, the way we do business is changing. The development of the knowledge economy means flatter, less hierarchical structures in organisations. Increased agility will help us respond to emerging markets, economic downturn and a culture change inspired by social media and new ways of communicating.

But what does this mean for business leaders? It means leaders need to be adaptable to be able to manage workplaces of the future. Its means leaders need to be able to create cultures that are not only diverse, but that leverage that difference for competitive advantage. Leaders that value diversity and dissent are better able to anticipate and respond to changes in the environment. Furthermore, trust is essential to transforming organisations and employee engagement. To achieve true leadership excellence, we need leaders to instil trust in their teams and live their organisation’s values.

As Tony Prestedge, Chief Operating Officer of Nationwide, argues inclusive leadership is not about consensus leadership. Inclusive leadership is about making sure that people get heard and everyone can bring ideas to the table, even if those ideas are different and divergent from the leader’s ideas or the traditional way ‘things are done around here’. This is how innovation occurs. Tony emphasises that it is important for business leaders to get outside and listen to the views of their customers and clients and make sure what they are delivering is relevant.

Leaders cannot do all of this alone, they need support from their organisations. McKinsey & Company’s 2013 Women Matter report stated that corporate culture is the most important driver for women’s confidence in success, meaning it is vital that organisations develop their leaders to be inclusive as standard. The report also made a number of suggestions for how employers can address this, including increased engagement and support from men – although almost three-quarters of men agree diverse leadership teams improve an organisation’s performance, nearly a third are unaware of the specific difficulties facing women who want to reach the top of their careers. This is where developing Inclusive Leadership capabilities in leaders (both male and female) can help. Employers may also need to consider the current leadership styles in their top management, as these can often play a significant part in individuals’ opportunities to progress. If women believe their leadership style is incompatible with what they see reflected in their organisation, they may decide senior management is not for them – reducing the number of women at the top level of the organisation.

If UK business is going remain competitive in a now globally connected world, where people are driven by values and equipped with knowledge, , then we need  to equip our leaders to be truly excellent. That is why I am incredibly excited by the second phase of our work on inclusive leadership, working closely with five partners – the Army, BAE Systems, Citi, Fujitsu and HMRC –to mainstream this pioneering leadership in their organisations. Through action research, we are working to create the tools to deliver the organisational and cultural change that is needed for all individuals to be able to thrive and succeed.