Management Editor at the Financial Times whose article The New Leadership focused on the Churchill Leadership Fellows programme and highlighted what the next generation expect of leaders.
Churchill Leadership Fellows – I learned a lot from the group of young Churchill Leadership Fellows I interviewed in 2015 at the Møller Centre, in connection with the Churchill 2015 21st Century Leaders Programme. I asked them all the same question – what does leadership mean to you?
I was struck both by their own commitment to leadership and by the way they all expected future leaders to use softer influence over their followers, rather than hard power and authority. It will take time for this approach to overcome the inertia of traditional leadership, but I was inspired by their optimism.
What in your view is the greatest challenge facing leaders in the next 25 years?
How to lead loose networks – or rather, how to animate leadership within those networks, since, by definition, such organisations develop from the bottom up. The corollary of this challenge faces leaders of more traditional organisations, who will have to adapt to a world where their authority is not defined by position, hierarchy and title.
What in your own life has taught you the most about leadership?
Most of my career has been spent observing other leaders, but I have also learned a lot about leadership by volunteering – as a school governor, trustee or just as an advisor to non-profit organisations. What has always struck me is how charities, associations, teams, and choirs operate on goodwill. They can’t pay people to turn up, so leaders of those groups have to find ways to tap into the intrinsic motivation of volunteers.
Yet when those same people return to their leadership positions in for-profit companies, they revert to the blunt tools of pay and hierarchy, and tend to ignore the benefits they could achieve by encouraging the goodwill of others.
I’m not suggesting anybody should have to work for no pay, or inadequate pay. But leaders should ask themselves: what would I do to persuade my team to come to work if I could no longer pay them? And why am I not already doing it?