Leading from the front, or leading from behind? what makes a good leader?

So what makes a good Leader?

Power is closely linked to leadership, and indeed there are many power hungry leaders, just look at Hitler for an example. Some will use this power to inflict their views and opinions whether those views are positive or negative, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson is a prime example of a powerful leader, depending on your own personal view on her stance, of the "HeForShe" campaign.

However within day to day society, there is a need for organisations whether profit, not-for-profit, public or private sector to have good leaders.

Whilst it is true that some individuals are born leaders there are a vast majority who are not. Leadership can be developed over time

Leadership often works in isolation to other organisational functions such as Human Resources, Employee Training and Development. A notion that is ingrained in good quality leadership is that managers, senior managers must all partake in Continuous Personal and Professional Development.

Nationally there are debates surrounding the nature of the working population; Diversity, changing opportunities,external politics,the economy and society, all play a part in influencing the leaders of tomorrow. Therefore leaders must learn to adapt and rise to these challenges.

There are many styles and characteristics of leadership that are unique to the individual and also to their organisation. Some are visionaries, others excel at shaping and influencing others and developing those around them in order to achieve goals and drive their organisation forward.

"Good leaders, are enthusiastic, inspire loyalty and command respect through their actions. They have a special gift of seeing what is important" (Bass 1990).

Ayer (2016) defines a leader as someone who influences and guides others and is ahead of the game. A leader can also execute ideas, motivate teams and achieve results.

Forbes (2012) Top 10 Qualities that Make a Great Leader
Sunday Times Top 100 Best Companies 2017

Do Leaders shape Organisations or do Organisations shape Leaders?

The current economic crisis places many Leaders and their organisations in difficulty in terms of retaining not only their employees, customers but also the profit margin, therefore due to external stresses and being under pressure, this may effect the quality of the leadership.

Using The Sunday Times top 100 list, three financial companies were identified. Despite the economic downturn MotoNovo Finance, First Response Finance and Zuto Finance, maintained a greater than average score on Leadership and well being. So what is it that makes the leadership of these organisations so good?

Ranked #8 out of 100 for leadership and well being. First Response Finance (FRF) provides motor vehicle insurance for those who have a history of financial difficulty. Their mission, vision and values state that they "focus on the customer rather than profit". So straight way, FRF appears to be a company that focuses on the individuals they serve rather than any profit they may make. Over half of their employees have been on the payroll for more than 5 years, resulting in low staff turnover.

MotoNovo (MN), which is a subsidiary of First Rand Bank, provides vehicle finance. MV ranked #9th out of 100 for leadership. MV attained the Gold Standard from investors and gained 3 star Best Company Accreditation in 2016.

Zuto Finance however ranked #93 out of 100, having dropped from 9th place in 2016. Despite this drop it is important to note that, this decline may not have any bearing on their leadership quality, but as with all top 100 lists, new companies emerge in the rankings and therefore any predecessors may experience a decline in the Top 100 status.

What is it about their leadership style?

FRF- has a male/female ratio of 44:56, signifying that the gender split within the company is about equal. 87% of their staff feel that the organisation is morally run, through the CEO Don Brough. 78% of their staff feel that their leaders are quick to respond to stress within the work place. Senior management promotes a culture of openness and honesty with its employees, removing personal offices and rigid benchmarks. Looking at their employee package, FRF reward their staff with monthly massages, standing desks and favourable pay dates, with overtime kept to a minimum and only when necessary. 78% of FRF staff are happy with the pay and benefits scheme, and 70% feel they are fairly compensated for their responsibilities.

In order to support their staff FRF close their offices on a Wed-Fri between 09.30 and 10.30 for staff training, group learning or private study. FRF reinvest any profit they make into their company, through training, development schemes. Which they state " Completes the cycle of philosophy and compliments our continual learning and improvements"

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Credits:

Created with images by bazza - "lion wild cat"

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