From Father’s Day to the future of the EU – the importance of leadership

From Father’s Day to the future of the EU – the importance of leadership

This week brings both Father’s Day and the EU Referendum – one a family celebration, the other a cause of turmoil for many people.

But reflecting on the attributes of a good parent, and those we wish to see in our leaders, brings up some interesting parallels. Both roles have changed over the years, with an increasing need to engage with the emotions of those over whom they have authority, rather than simply dictate.

Blogger Jenn Co* asked her friends what they thought were important qualities or characteristics a good father would possess. Among other attributes, they believed that a good father:

  • provides safety, security, and tangible expressions of love
  • protects his family from harm and danger
  • cheers and encourages
  • listens attentively
  • provides guidance and constant support
  • is an example of integrity and responsibility
  • models compassion and justice

These elements also fit the new models of leadership now developing. In the same way as good modern parents take their children’s emotional wellbeing into account when making decisions that affect the family, effective leaders need to be in touch with the feelings and perceptions of the people within their sphere of influence.

“Leaders cannot rely on hierarchical position for their power. More than ever they need to persuade, inspire and motivate.”(Swart, Chisholm and Brown 2015: 13 – 13)

The Referendum campaigns of the past few weeks have given us the chance to study a range of behaviour and leadership styles in a political context.

For any 21st century leader, whether in government or the commercial arena, ethics, trust, teamwork and collaboration are more effective than an old-fashioned, paternalistic approach.

The Uni@Work Management and Leadership degree programmes emphasise effective communication and the importance of feedback. To develop their influencing skills, learners are helped to understand the impact individuals have on others. They are encouraged to reflect on how they personally affect the people around them, and to observe the interactions of other people in their workplace.

“We are more likely to learn something from people who disagree with us than we are from those who agree.” (Fullan 2007: 40 – 41)

Good collaborative relationships are vital to building a team. Fostering them requires the ability to understand the different personality types of the people involved. In any group of individuals, inevitably there will be differences of opinion – if not outright disagreement – but this does not have to be a bad thing. If conflict is managed positively, a greater understanding can be reached. Uni@Work learners undertake group activities such as designing a team building exercise to address a particular situation, combined with personal reflection on the impact of individuals on team performance. These help them to develop a suite of options that they can use to build and manage a team within their own organisation, including the steps needed to manage any conflict.

Whatever happens as a result of tomorrow’s EU vote, one thing is certain: good leadership skills will be even more in demand in every sphere of life, whether political, social or commercial, public or private.