Thoughts about hr and management in the real world – extra information I couldn't fit in my books!.

What kind of leader do you want?

There are thousands of articles and books on what behaviours leaders should be demonstrating – yet many leaders still aren’t doing these things.

I hear so many HR people tell me their CEO’s or executive teams aren’t displaying good leadership (they don’t think strategically, don’t live by the values, don’t discuss performance regularly with line managers, don’t role model what good leadership is). I also hear the same issues raised by the thousands of line managers I train. Why should they focus on developing their teams, deal with performance issues, coach and discuss performance when senior leaders don’t do any of those things?

Thinking about this, the other day I had a revelation.

How often do we tell our leaders what we want from them?

Quite clearly leaders aren’t capable of demonstrating leadership by themselves. They’ve proved that.

So if that hasn’t worked – why don’t those of us who have to work with the ‘leaders’ take leadership of it instead?

How? If you’re a Line Manager, when your senior manager asks you to complete performance reviews, yet they haven’t done this with you, you say something like “To get the best out of me as your direct report, what I’d like to see is that you book a meeting with me every quarter to discuss how I’m achieving my goals and give me feedback. I will feel much more motivated to achieve my goals and therefore the divisional goals will also be achieved. Are you able to do this?”

Or when your CEO asks you as the HR Manager to do a dodgy restructure, or pay a settlement rather than deal with an issue or to make sure all line managers do their reviews on time yet hasn’t done his or hers (see a theme emerging here?) or takes any number of actions that puts no value on HR, you say something like “I’ve always wanted to work for an inspiring leader. I’m concerned that doing XX (insert behaviour example) won’t demonstrate the leadership that people will find inspiring or effective. I understand your rationale but I’d really like to ask you if that shows the leadership style you want to display? Or if there is a different approach that you could take here?”

It’s a conversation I realise that I would have liked to have had with a number of leaders that I’ve worked for or with. But I never thought about challenging them on the leader I would like them to be rather than hoping they just magically would get it themselves.

So think about the leaders you want to work for and challenging them on demonstrating these traits to motivate and engage you.

If you have a go or you have done this in the past – I’d love to hear if it created a change. Because if we’re not getting good leadership from the top, then let’s start creating it from those that follow.


Angela Atkins is a best-selling author and business entrepreneur who has a passion for providing development and training for HR and people managers  through the Management Bites programme (to check it out or purchase modules to run in your business visit, HR Conferences and other events at



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This entry was posted on May 20, 2016 by in Leadership and tagged , , .
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