Magazine article New Zealand Management

Corporate Culture: Confidence & Culture -- the New Leadership Currency; NZ Management Magazine Spoke to Marcus Child, Presenter at a Recent TEC Event in Auckland. Child Is a Professional Presenter and Leadership Trainer with an Impressive International Reputation in Leadership Development and Transforming Corporate Cultures

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Corporate Culture: Confidence & Culture -- the New Leadership Currency; NZ Management Magazine Spoke to Marcus Child, Presenter at a Recent TEC Event in Auckland. Child Is a Professional Presenter and Leadership Trainer with an Impressive International Reputation in Leadership Development and Transforming Corporate Cultures

Article excerpt

Today's leadership currency is confidence, according to corporate culture expert Marcus Child. "This is the age of enterprise and the age of confidence," -- a major shift from the structured, constrained mindset of the industrial age.

"It used to be following rules and doing what you're supposed to do. For my parents' generation, work was the thing you had to do to get to the end of the week to get your money. Those were the days when we had conscription, you had to salute the flag; rules governed and you had to do as you were told and if you did it for long enough you got promoted," Childs explained.

"These days things spring out of nowhere and in this world confidence is everything. The person who's prepared to have a go is more likely to be successful than the one who's just prepared to do his or her duty."

A successful CEO must be able to take risks and be flexible in their thinking. "You need to know your 'true north' but be able to flex and find ways around things -- be canny and smart," said Childs. "Be prepared to think laterally and try new stuff."

He emphasised the ability to build relationships. "People management is even more important than numbers management in this environment."

Research conducted by Beverley Alimo Metcalfe, formerly of Leeds University, asking employees what they follow -- what really keeps them engaged -- identified a genuine concern for others. "The first thing that people follow is does this person genuinely care about me. Way down the list was the ability to gather people around a shared vision," explained Metcalfe. "The visionary stuff, being a great leader, a great orator, doesn't get close."

While the ability to take risks is important, it's not about wild gambles, believes Child. "It's more about taking risks with people; with someone you think can make things happen and give them their head. New ideas come from lots of us trying new things and someone getting a breakthrough, but you have to be prepared to give enough power -- give enough freedom to act."

When many of the key elements of leadership appear to be so simple, why do we get it wrong so often? "Maybe it's easier to focus on the negative," surmises Child. "Ultimately it's easier and lazier; you don't have to ask much of yourself and other people will let us get away with it because they like us and love us."

He says it has a lot to do with culture. "There are macro and micro cultures: a family's a culture, a team's a culture and an organisation's a culture. You could argue that the macro culture, especially in England but in lots of other places too, is rather negative. Newspapers sell because they give us bad news. We can break that pattern by our own micro-cultures. That's why I like to work with companies and say 'if you get your culture right and robust and really secure then the chances are that that other stuff won't leak into your system quite as much as it will in other places'. The cultures that are strong and resourceful recover best."

And what about the failure of leadership in times -- like now -- of massive change? "I think leaders can lose confidence and as soon as they lose confidence, they listen to other leaders, and economists and people in authority. …

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