CIPD09: A New Leadership Paradigm


   I enjoyed day 2 of the CIPD Conference more than day 1 (I met some people who thought the reverse, so of course it’s a personal thing, partly depending upon which sessions you attend, and a whole heap of other things as well).  I particularly enjoyed Nick Baylis on ‘the Rough Guide to Happiness’ and Sarah Redshaw from Unilever on ‘Building Transformation through Engagement’.  I’ve not blogged on these sessions, but you can see plenty of tweets from me and others on Twitter, using the hashtag #CIPD09 (if you don’t know what this means, you really should you know).

The highlight from today should be the end of day keynote, ‘a New Leadership Paradigm’.  The outline certainly looks interesting (and just seeing John Humphrys live should be good):


Public respect for leaders has hit an all time low. The exposed inadequacy of those in leadership positions has brought current thinking on leadership and the established models into question.

Today, it seems that there is a substantial lack of ‘real’ and successful leaders equipped with both the resilience and capability to deal with the complexity and pressures of the ever changing global market. So are we now at a cross roads? Is this an ideal opportunity to challenge the current view of what it takes to be a good leader and to establish what behaviours and competences will be needed to lead organisations and societies into our uncertain future?

Join us to debate:

  • Why and how have traditional models failed?
  • How can we learn from the past and build on its successes?
  • How can we re-establish leadership credibility?
  • What skills and attributes will successful leaders of the future need?



I’ll be live blogging from the session, but here are a few thoughts to warm-things up.

Firstly, I think it is a really big and important question.  I do think existing leadership is failing.  Look at Hay’s stats from yesterday, or simply the end results (the recession we’re now in).  And we know that leadership accounts for a significant part of this (Jim Collins’ point that leaders can destroy organisations on their own).

I agree that resilience and capability are part of what needs to be fixed.  But I think attitudes need changing too.  We need to look again at what we mean by leadership and change the way that leaders lead.

And we’ve had a few pointers during the conference, particularly from Jim Collins on Level 5 leadership, and the need for leaders to act through others to create greatness; and Emmanuel Gobillot on the connected leader in his session on Leadershift.

Leaders may have a particular role but they achieve success through their community.

It seems to be a view that’s taking off.

I was talking about this with Jonathan Austin at the Best Companies exhibition stand yesterday too.  He had just attended a session with Edgar Schein where Schein had been talking about leaders as ‘humble engineers’ who need to work through others to make their organisations work.  And I’ve already posted on Social Advantage on Henry Mintzberg’s concept of Communityship.

Emphasising that companies are not collectives of human resources, but communities of human beings, Mintzberg suggests that traditional views of leadership isolate people in leadership positions, thereby undermining a sense of community in organisations.  He believes leadership and communityship go hand-in-hand: "A community leader is personally engaged in order to engage others, so that anyone and everyone can exercise initiative".

And it’s by developing this sense of community that individuals become bound to each other and start to want to focus on developing the productivity of their organisation as a whole, rather than acting purely out of self-interest.


That’d be the basis of my answer if I was on the stage today.  And it’s also one of the things I write about at my other blog, Social Advantage, and you might want to check over there.

Join me for the live blog if you can!




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  • jon  [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com


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    I graduated from Imperial College, London in 1987 and joined Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) as a systems development consultant. After ten years in IT, change and then HR consulting, I joined Ernst & Young as an HR Director, working firstly in the UK, and then, based in Moscow, covering the former USSR.More recently, I have worked as Head of HR Consulting for Penna and Director of Human Capital Consulting for Buck Consultants (the HR consultancy owned by ACS).


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