Leadership in the news monthly review September 2015

Review of articles on leadership in the major global newspapers for September 2015


Every month, Leadership Issues reviews highlights/trends from features/articles on the subject of leadership appearing in major global newspapers. Today we are reviewing the month of September.

The top three themes for September (in order) appearing in the nationals included:

The practice/style of leadership
Leadership competences
Leadership environment/engagement

This is the third consecutive month that the practice and style of leadership has featured on the leader board; indeed, the last two months it has been the lead topic. This theme, which is about leadership in action, includes leadership styles and approaches. Leadership competences include articles that ask the basic question: what makes a leader and what skills are necessary to develop leadership? Leadership environment explores how leaders can influence the working environment to create a more inspired, motivated and engaged workforce/followship. In this period of great change and uncertainty in the workforce, it seems inevitable that commentators will ask fundamental questions on what is leadership, how can leaders better relate to the contemporary workplace and what are some good examples of leadership in practice.

3 articles stood out this month one from each leader category that are worth flagging.

Richard Branson wrote a piece in The Star Online on the leadership practice of crisis management. Four rules of crisis management is based on Branson’s own experience of dealing with crises in his transportation business. He suggests four rules: turn up, take control, be authentic and remain calm (he quotes from Kipling’s If “keep your head when all about you are losing theirs”).

There was a great article that dealt with the issue of competences, Debunking the complex myth of management. Santosh Desai writing in the Times of India challenges the use of competences as a means for determining leadership positions. This taps into a subject that is trending on a drive for more vertical leadership development within organisations. The terms vertical and horizontal in relation to leadership development are clarified in a Centre for Creative Leadership white paper, Future Trends in Leadership Development:

There are two different types of development–horizontal and vertical. A great deal of time has been spent on “horizontal” development (competencies), but very little time on “vertical” development (developmental stages). The methods for horizontal and vertical development are very different. Horizontal development can be “transmitted” (from an expert), but vertical development must be earned (for oneself).

Leadership development is dominated by competency-based horizontal development and as Desai says, it would be good to see more non-competency based measures in place.

Fiona Smith reporting in BRW deals with the topic of flexibility in the workplace. In her article, Why the best places to work list is becoming a battle of the flex, she highlights how flexibility and self-autonomy features highly in a BRW Best place to work survey. An environment of flexibility, according to Smith, stimulates growth and leads to higher performance and commitment. Smith also highlights that flexibility is dependent on leadership setting the right tone case-studying the example of incoming Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s decision in 2013 to recall all remote workers to the office because she believed they would be more productive working away from home, a decision that caused a lot of tension. Of course, some people prefer hierarchy (a point Smith makes in her feature) and sometimes attitudinal and structural barriers can deter employees to work flexibly. Charlie Wells and Joann Lublin address this in an interesting article published last month in the Washington Post, Employees Like Flexible Work Programs—but Few Use Them, where they explore how people fear to be seen as less committed to their careers if they work remotely and the authors assess the cultures and structures that reinforce this.

Click here for a full list of titles and sources from the September archive and remember to check the leadership in the news section everyday where the latest articles on leadership are posted.