Leaders must be ‘free’ to lead

Chris Sheppardson, CEO at EP Innovates (www.epinnovates.com)

Leaders get a hard time. There is much debate at the moment around poor leadership, lack of trust in leadership and growing stress and anxiety in the workplace.  The hard truth is, leaders face some very real challenges in the workplace today and quite frankly they are not always ‘free’ to lead, make judgements and decisions or act in the way that they believe is right. From that perspective, one could be forgiven for questioning whether they are in fact, leading at all.

There are many reasons that leaders today are not free to lead.  The increased pressure on workforces, teams, bottom line profit and targets means leaders are often pushed to their limits and in turn, workers are also expected to deliver on unrealistic goals (despite struggles with culture and productivity which stem from unhappy teams).  Leaders must be free to lead in business otherwise both culture and the environment suffers from the outset.

Leaders are being restrained

Leadership determines culture. Bottom line, employees, talent, clients and customers need far more that another business process or a company that is fixated on profit alone.  Of course, all business leaders appreciate that a profitable business is fundamental but there has to be a balance otherwise it’s a recipe for failure in the long run.  What the workplace needs to see today is real leadership.  By real leadership, we mean charismatic, influential leaders with strong values, principles and an overriding people and customer ethos.

People are inherently tribal beings and they want to belong to something bigger and to be part of a community at work.  Leadership plays a central role to that community; in fact it is the heart of it. Yet sadly today, many leaders are feeling restrained from developing their own strategies, particularly if they are not immediately engineered towards increasing shareholder value and profits (even though the longer term value may be exactly geared towards financial gain).  The lifespan of leaders, which is arguably too short today, means they usually possess little room to operate effectively and no room at all for luxury.

Behind bars

There is already a growing debate that asks whether or not the CEO or leader is even needed anymore.  Which to be honest, is a fair question if they are not be allowed to lead with freedom and conviction.  A leader who is effectively ‘behind bars’ is going to be undermined from the outset, so the organisation’s structure is then regenerated to be robust enough to survive without a CEO.  The question is, what does that say about the company? Where is the life and the soul of the business?  Does it matter?

Frankly, it has to matter. Especially in a climate where team spirit, productivity and culture are at an all time low.  Where does one take inspiration from, how does one learn and follow?  Business processes so not create great experiences, great people or great teams. People need to be inspired, motivated and led (by a true leader that is free to lead).

Fighting corners

In the past, great business leaders fought our corner; they stood up for what they believed in, to make things better.  They understood the importance and power of good people and why we need to invest and train them.  If business wants to succeed it’s all about being the best – and that comes from people.

The idle discussion on whether on not we actually need CEOs should be made redundant in itself.  Instead, we should be talking about how leaders can be given the freedom and backing they need and deserve.  If CEOs continue to live under threat from day one, then teams will suffer as a result.  We should be supporting the great leaders of our country, not stifling them or holding them back from what they are here to do – drive successful businesses via a happy, productive and loyal team, one that wants and needs free leaders.

About EPinnovates (www.epinnovates.com)

A shop window for entrepreneurial innovation, EPinnovates has been created to showcase exciting innovations, new products, services, concepts and businesses forlarger companies to discover and explore.  Designed to recognise and support the innovation that entrepreneurs and smaller businesses bring to the future economy, EPinnovates tells stories about entrepreneurs; each has a different tale, adventure and overcomes diverse obstacles, but all are looking to improve business and create value.  Accessing these ideas and innovations can be difficult forbusinesses to truly discover so EPinnovates acts to bridge that gap and help to engineer the future for the better byintroducinglarger companies to entrepreneurs through the principles of trust, community and relationships.

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