Ask the expert: Developing a leadership culture

Ask the expert: Developing a leadership culture

Paul Stobart, chair of Total Fitness and Platinum Stairlifts – two of NorthEdge’s portfolio businesses, is a master trainer of the Living Leader course. The course is designed to help people within businesses tap into their true leadership potential and build a culture of leadership within organisations.

We asked Paul for his views on leadership in businesses, where most firms get it wrong, and how to develop a culture that promotes innovation to support growth.  

Can you explain a little bit about the Living Leader programme and how it approaches leadership?

“Living Leader has been going for around 15 years. The key theory it uses is defining the difference between management and leadership. Once people understand how each differs, and where they may be mistaking management for leadership, they realise where they might be going wrong.

“It can be quite uncomfortable for people as they get to understand their own faults. The course effectively dismantles every bad habit people have and rebuilds them using a new set of leadership tools. But it truly gets results.”

So, what are the key traits of management versus leadership?

“Manager mode is driving people to their optimum, controlling the agenda and pushing for results quickly. Leader mode is about inspiring others to do it for themselves and in that sense it’s about freedom. It’s more difficult than managing because it’s all about open dialogue, asking questions, listening and appreciating people’s viewpoints.”

“Crucially it’s about relinquishing responsibility yourself and giving people the opportunity to think for themselves.”

When it comes to leadership, where do people commonly go wrong?

“It’s not necessarily that people are doing anything wrong. It’s that management comes easily to people. It allows for quick delegation and allows the manager to take ownership and control lots of situations. The drawback here is that it can stifle innovation across the business.”

From your experience as a chief executive, do you generally find that management teams are good at leadership or do they fall short?

“C-suite executives can be some of the worst leaders. The reason is back to the management versus leadership point – the vast majority of people have progressed in business because they’re good managers. Most CEOs don’t realise this until they’ve already developed bad habits.

“In fact, many find that over the course of their tenure, growth flattens off because they only manage. They get the most out of people for a very short time and growth only starts again once a new management team has formed. If they can get the balance between leader and manager right, then they can make growth more consistent while inspiring people at work.”

To find out more about The Living Leader programme, click here.

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