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Government should 'invest in leadership'

Chartered Management Institute | Chartered Management Institute

4 min read Partner content

The largest ever in-depth study into the business benefits of management and leadership development has shown that the government can do more to promote early access to management education.

PoliticsHome was speaking to Christopher Kinsella, acting chief executive of CMI.

According to your latest research, 43 per cent of managers consider their own line managers to be ineffective. Why do you believe this perception is held?

Although it is very difficult to measure, it is very clear that these are observed results where managers themselves are expressing bad experiences, in their own environment, from their own managers.

They are explaining that there are consequences of bad managers. That is why the perception is held, and indeed that goes right to the core of the research, which is that we believe that only 1 in 5 managers in the UK are qualified formally to be a manager.

What responsibilities do you believe line managers are ineffective at?

In the main those responsibilities tend to be people-management skills.

In the widest sense it's in terms of dealing with culture, people issues, promotion issues and everything really to do with leadership. That's which responsibilities, in this case, the survey has identified as being deficient.

The report shows that management and leadership-development activities lead to increases of up to 32 per cent in people performance. Why do you think that more businesses are not adopting such an approach to effective management?

In the current economic climate it is quite clear that there is a reluctance, from a resource and budgeting point of view, to invest heavily in this area, but in fact we advise that really this is not effective.

We know from this research that improvement in people performance leads to business performance improvements as well. Even in times of relative affluence, managers have been promoted on their technical, rather than their managerial skills.

I think that has led to a culture where people who are very senior in an organisation have not necessarily been trained specifically in management and leadership disciplines. I think together with that, management and leadership has not been effectively evaluated by organisations until now.

Is there a culture of bad management within UK businesses?

We would certainly argue that that is the case. That is exactly what this report is aimed at focusing attention on, so that we can improve the performance effectively of UK plc through improving management performance.

The report claims that the government could do more to promote earlier access to management education. What is the evidence that shows this would have an impact for the future?

I think the evidence in the report is quite clear that there is a link between management development and then organisational improvements through better management, leading to organisational outcomes being improved. These could be financial outcomes or improved outcomes in terms of employee engagement or effectiveness. What the government can do, I think, is to demonstrate this evidence and to promote schemes to improve that.

There are a number of initiatives I think the government can promote, one of them for instance, in Skills for Growth strategy on a national and local level. Another is some of the education institutions, and indeed membership institutions, such as the CMI who run, in our case, a campus CMI initiative which reaches people who are 14 to 21 year-olds. That scheme will lead to a taster of what is good management practice, which can then be carried through to the rest of their career.

A different angle that I would suggest government could adopt here is to recognise that government is an employer, and one of the largest employers. Government itself should be, in my view and in the report's view, increasing its investment in management and leadership-development for their own people.

What do you hope this report will change?

Undoubtedly it should change the attitudes towards leadership qualifications and attitudes towards management leadership. I think it will change peoples' understanding of the benefits to businesses and to organisations. It will change people's understanding of what to do to improve management and leadership.

By that I mean the need is to link training and development to the business strategy; to recognise that a one-size-fits-all strategy is not appropriate. I think the report should also focus on changing people's perception that management is actually a profession in its own right.

It should change people's perception that at the moment very few managers start their careers by being properly qualified as managers. I think that should be changed. It should change people's attitudes to coaching and developing behaviours. By that I mean, for instance, at the chief executive level there is an approach to improving chief executive performance, not by courses necessarily, but by coaching.

Read the most recent article written by Chartered Management Institute - Management Degree Apprenticeships: New CMI Data Challenges Misconceptions

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