In a time of uncertainty, people turn to their leaders and expect guidance, reassurance, confidence and clear direction. If it is not forthcoming, they can quickly lose focus, become demotivated and their performance inevitably suffers. This is true for each of us as individuals and for teams, for whole organisations and even for nations.
Well, we are very much in a time of uncertainty now. Economies in flux, nations in conflict, the balance of global power shifting daily toward the east. In the UK, insufficient foresight from successive governments of various persuasions and a lack of investment in the future has delayed the timely replacement of our lost industries and left us with a vulnerable economy that lacks self-sufficiency and produces too little of real value. The banking crisis was a wake-up call that we have to heed if we are to avoid a repeat or, worse still, an accelerating slide out of the world's top rank.
We have never been more in need of leadership, in every sense.
The Chartered Management Institute has tabled a series of pledges, laid out in a manifesto, that commits Government, Employers and the hundreds of thousands of members of the Management Profession to a comprehensive and concerted effort to upgrade the leadership capabilities of Britain.
As one of the G8 nations, it is totally unacceptable that less than 20% of our managers have any form of professional qualification in their primary role. This puts us significantly behind the majority of our immediate national competitors. Can you imagine the outcry if the same were true in the ranks of Doctors, Lawyers, Pilots? Management has arguably a much more significant part to play in the lives of the majority.
I urge you to go to the CMI website at http://www.managers.org.uk/ and sign up to the CMI manifesto. If you are a manager who has yet to achieve a professional qualification in leadership & management, I urge you just as strongly to begin to do something about it. If you are a middle manager with significant responsibilities, a Level 5 qualification is the baseline. For a senior manager, a qualification at Level 7 should be the target.
It isn't sufficient to say 'I already know how to do this job, I've been doing it for years' - in this time of pressure and constant change, we all need to do it better and to consider new approaches. Personally, I am qualified in management at Level 4, level 5 and twice at Level 7. Yet I am still studying to achieve a Level 8 doctoral qualification. More to the point, I'm still learning new things as a result and putting them into practice.
And still realising every week how much I still don't know and how much there is to learn.
Come and join me and the thousands of others on the (endless) road to professional leadership.
Sign the pledge.