“My philosophy is, put your employees first, your customers second and your investors third and, in the end, everyone will be happy.”
Virgin Boss, Sir Richard Branson, has nailed another PR coup. Setting the cat amongst the pigeons and challenging employers to discard the traditional holiday contractual allowance, he has dared to suggest that staff should be able to take as much holiday as they like.
At first glance this is a great way of empowering the workforce and trusting them to have more ownership of their work-life balance. I will watch his ‘experiment’ with interest as he has initially rolled out this new policy to 170 of this staff (his total workforce has more than 50000 employees around the world). The clever proviso is that any absence should not damage business or ‘their careers’.
Sir Richard Branson is a great case study in modern leadership, and we often cite him at my360plus as a great example when we are discussing the ‘involve’ and ‘inspire’ clusters of high performance leadership behaviours:
Involving Leadership Behaviours:
- Encourages a ‘hands-off’ approach to management so that employees make their own decisions. Branson trusts and empowers his teams.
- Makes employees feel truly valued and appreciated. This increases company loyalty and provides a true sense of purpose.
- Encourages communication and feedback. Did you know that he even gives out his phone number to all employees encouraging ideas, suggestions or comments?!
- Actively listens: he is very approachable, and is able to connect with people at all levels. Feedback is truly encouraged and valued.
- Seeks to always look for the best in people. He moves people into different jobs within the organisation to transfer, develop and maximise skills.
Inspiring Leadership Behaviours:
- Encourages his employees to be innovative and take risks. Branson himself is not afraid to make mistakes, taking on challenges, demonstrating determination and persistence to bounce back and learn.
- Promotes a clear vision that is consistently and clearly communicated – the ‘Virgin Brand’.
- Builds confidence in the company’s potential for success.
- Is a role model. Branson is motivating, energetic and ‘walks the talk’. “If you love what you do and if you believe in what you do, others will share your enthusiasm.”
- Has an innovative approach to business: likes to break ‘rules’ and do things differently.
- Values and rewards truly exceptional customer service.
“You don’t learn to walk by following rules,” Branson says. “You learn by doing, and by falling over.”
My daughter is revising for her ‘A’ levels at the moment and I was struck by this colourful essay that I saw on the kitchen table – she had carefully studied the exam board marking scheme and had marked up her essay against each of the marking criteria to ensure she would maximise her grade.
This is a simple example of measuring the right things to maximise performance. As a high performance leadership behaviour we would call it ‘Quality Measurement’, which is all about making your measures outcome focused. This often includes setting interconnected goals, targets or measures to improve performance. Wherever possible in an organisational context, the focus is on making things better for the customer, whether they be external or internal. It is one of the leadership behaviours rated and coached in every my360plus profile.
What do organisations tend to measure?
Companies tend to measure what is easy to measure or what has traditionally been measured, without really considering whether the measures are appropriate and will help them towards their goal. Often, organisations have far too many measures, where reports are produced every month, but no one really reads them and very little action results from the review of the data produced.
Questions to consider when developing Quality Measurement:
- What can you do to better monitor the current project or work you are doing? How can you make sure you are making progress?
- How can you improve the monitoring of your activities over the coming week, month and three months? What will success look like from this point over these time periods?
- How can you have a conversation with your key customers to understand how they really measure you? What can you change that will improve success against these measures?
- What are you measuring (because you always have) that doesn’t really add any value? How might you replace these with measures that really matter, especially to a customer?
The key to Quality Measurement is to set meaningful measures that have a significant impact on your performance.
Let’s hope my daughter has pinpointed the correct measures for her exam success!
With the recent LIBOR scandal currently in the news, once again the spotlight is on the quality of leadership in Banking and the Financial Services Industry in general.
In 2009 the UK Government commissioned a review of leadership and corporate governance of the Banks. The report by David Walker made a number of useful recommendations, including, in Annex 4 on the Psychological and behavioural elements in board performance.
In this section it states in its findings:
Leadership behaviour is considerably more predictive of success in complex roles so should be given more weight over industry experience in the decision-making process. The assessment report should be used not just as a decision-making tool for selection, but also as a key part of building an induction and gap management plan to integrate new members and reduce the risks inherent in groups that work together for long periods.
It then goes on to list the well-researched and validated Schroder framework as a recommend leadership model suited to complex and volatile leadership challenges
We couldn’t agree more, which is why my360plus is based on the very same model.
You can download a full copy of the Walker review from the HM Treasury website. You can find the relevant section from page 139 onwards.