Last Thursday, kindly hosted by Aberystwyth University, we held one of the 2017 Leading Wales wards’ Leadership Conversation events about engaging leadership to improve productivity. This is one of a series of Conversations to highlight the need for good leadership and to encourage participation in nominating for the 2017 Leading Wales Awards.
Linda Tomos, the Librarian, National Library of Wales was our guest contributor providing two case studies about how to in real life (as it were) engage employees – one relating to a relatively small team within Welsh Government and one her current (very much larger team of about 200) at the National Library.
I set the scene with some statistics and research which help explain why engagement is so important: e.g. In 2016 the Office for National Statistics reported that the UK productivity gap had widened to its worst level since records began. Worse still, in Wales, labour productivity was almost 20% below the UK average. And also: McKinsey research has consistently shown that good leadership is a critical part of organizational health. Engagement and creating engaged employees is something that managers and executives can influence (whether a micro-business or multi-national).
Within both of her case studies, Linda explained that in her view to be engaging needs very much a conversational leadership approach; those conversations are within a clear structure (i.e. a clear vision and strategy together with an implementation plan to deliver on that strategic vision).
This had total synergy with me having said that the leadership required needs to be holistic in its style and deliver on being transactional (clear planning and accountability, setting targets, measuring progress etc) as well as being transformational (a clear vision which is shared, connecting with individuals, listening, unleashing creativity and innovation etc).
Linda’s approach in both organisations is about getting everyone talking, helping them connect what they do to the organisational vision, strategy and implementation plan and seeking their input and ideas relating to it all so that they are thinking strategically as well as operationally. She values getting to know her staff, building relationships and trust. Linda has used planned and structured conversational approaches so that employees have worked as a group on developing strategy and implementation; she has also used informal approaches such as her weekly chatty email about her activities that lets everyone know what is going on and informal occasions such as dropping in for a glass of wine, a welsh cake and a chat – with Linda and also with other colleagues.
It was a fascinating and useful conversation and insight. Thank you, Linda, and thank you to Aberystwyth University too.
The 2017 Leading Wales Awards are live for nominations from Monday 3rd April to Friday 26th May 2017. The Awards are now in their 13th year and are the only prestigious, pan-Wales leadership awards. They seek to identify, recognise and celebrate individuals (irrespective of sector or hierarchical responsibility) whose leadership is making a real difference in Wales.
There are 8 categories. Click here to download a nomination form.