How much more appalling leadership do we have to put up with before we change?

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Written by Elke Edwards on 20 August 2019

Reading time: 2 minutes.

I am not much of a political person, but I have become addicted to the news in recent months. I have been mesmerised by the behaviour that is being labelled 'leadership'. None of the political parties is demonstrating leadership.

The sooner we all recognise this, the sooner we will be on the road to recovery – or should I say transformation? Because that is what I think we need. We need to transform how we see leadership and how we develop it.

Google 'leadership' and you will get more than  5,710,000,000 results – everyone has something to say about leadership. So why is it that we are so bad at it? In a time when we seem to know so much about it, we are in the biggest leadership crisis the world has ever seen.

Last year the World Economic Forum told us that 83% of leaders believe we are in a leadership crisis. If the leaders feel that way, I wonder what the percentage is for ‘non-leaders'?

We need to transform how we see leadership and how we develop it.

Here’s what I think needs to happen. First, we need to start being honest about the ‘state’ of leadership ability we have right now across almost every sector. When we embrace this new honesty, we will begin to own the fact that how we are developing leaders isn’t working.

Most organisations are currently taking their brightest and best down exactly the same path as they took the leaders of today - that has to be a new definition of madness. Having had our moment of realisation we need to develop a new path for leadership: one that starts earlier in life and helps the individual discover who they are, which values matters to them, and what kind of leader they want to be.

This new path needs to recognise the breadth of leadership – that it comes in many shapes and sizes and only one of those involves managing other people. And, it needs to acknowledge the fact that, as our organisations and institutions change at such a rapid rate, what we require from our leaders is also changing.

This means developing a different skillset – skills our current leaders are often not that good at.

Finally, we need to bridge the gap between schools, universities and organisations so they are working together to support the individual to find a role that means something to them. Do this and we begin to have a collective of people working with purpose and that in itself would change the face of leadership.


About the author

Elke Edwards is the founder of Ivy House London.

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