Leadership – formal or informal learning trajectory?

This is a question that has cropped up a fair bit between us and our colleagues.  We are such a fun bunch aren’t we?  Yep, thought so.

Some food for thought…

Without the formal delivery of an agreed approach to leadership within an organisation, there is a greatly enhanced risk of individuals/departments executing leadership ideals that are at odds with the next person and the business as a whole; creating pockets of leadership sub-cultures that have far reaching implications for both personal and organisational outcomes.   Take for example a retail supermarket ‘shop-floor’ environment; if employees are not given guidance on leadership approaches that are consistent and aligned to the business, then the specific approach an individual chooses to align themselves to may negatively impact those they lead and the business as a whole, from both a ‘bottom-line’ and regulatory perspective. In this fast paced environment, Adair’s (1973) Action Centred Leadership model with its focus on team, task and individual enables a greater level of attention on managing performance and processes, a must when you consider even the basic implications of an ill-considered shop-floor lay-out or the trading standards outcomes of poor perishable stock monitoring; than would Avolio & Bass’ (1994) Full Range Leadership Model with its emphasis on developing transformational leadership styles.  Additionally, utilising a leadership model that sits within an organisation’s current and future cultural aspirations lowers the risk of employees becoming frustrated with the requirements and/or limitations that their job places on them. The point is that without an agreed organisational guidance on leadership, what is to stop any number of leadership models being represented in even the smallest of teams?  Nothing I’m afraid.  Formal guidance on leadership theory and models provides all learners with a framework upon which to practice and develop their leadership skills.  An agreed leadership approach that is supported and conducive to the culture and direction of the Organisation would provide parameters within which organisations would be able to recognise and promote behaviours and performance that were congruent with a preferred approach.

Adair, J.E. (1973) Action-Centred Leadership. London: McGraw-Hill.

Bass, M and Avolio B. J. (1994) Improving Organizational Effectiveness through Transformational Leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.