The often ignored realities of talent management (#6): leadership styles do exist

I will admit that I had forgotten about this little mini-series but the recent news over bullying allegations at the top levels of the UK’s government bring to the forefront once again the issue of leadership “styles” and the conflict that can come from different priorities and personalities in the workplace.

There will of course be lots of column inches on this story, even if “none of us really knows what transpired between Ms Patel and Sir Philip Rutnam“. What can be said is that this very public conflict highlights failures to lead in a democratic or consensus building way – which of course may well be deliberate.

Thus it comes to personality and, perhaps above all else, how you are willing to behave to others. The BBC’s take that this is a government “willing to rattle cages in order to get things done” makes it sound like a business bringing in ‘fixers’ to overhaul operations. The problem is that such forced or aggressive change in business tends to have to transition to a softer ‘end state’ when people can operate ‘normally’ again as a ‘new normal’ or BAU takes shape. This is difficult in government, at least in the UK democratic system where consensus building and concessions are typical practice and civil servants tend to last longer than their ministerial ‘bosses’.

In organisations too often leadership and management development and corporate values scratch the surface of issues. Ultimately we need to be clear what expectations are so as to not allow someone’s talent (normally meaning their revenue generation) to go against what we are trying to achieve in terms of behaviour towards other human beings.

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