Developing Leaders – It certainly doesn’t start with process and systems

Developing Leaders – It certainly doesn’t start with process and systems

One of the most common counters to leadership development is the argument that leaders cannot be developed, they emerge naturally – that the traits lie deep within characters. That is half true but there needs to be an environment that encourages potential leaders to express themselves and to have the confidence to lead.  Leadership is not about intellect but it needs confidence, an understanding and feel of people and the challenges and the ability to inspire.


The real debate today is that many business structures are now acting as barriers to leaders developing and that business environments today are more dominated by business process and systems, giving leaders very little opportunity to be able to be productive.

The argument is that leaders will still break through but the point to consider is that environments which are dominated by business process have two effects:

  • It does not build confidence
  • It does create lazy behaviours

So often we will hear of companies talking more of their internal processes than any other narrative or external focus towards customers, partners or suppliers.

One of the most common critiques of large companies is how procurement procedures make it remarkably difficult for suppliers and for innovators.  The counter is that businesses today are arguably better managed and more sophisticated than ever before. Maybe but there are fewer characters breaking through and it is fair to ask if there is less warmth and care about people?

The challenge for businesses is to place people first again – not through development of MBA programmes or intellect but through encouraging talent to express themselves, to communicate effectively, to debate and challenge and not to accept process for the sake of it. It is more important to do what is right – to really care about others, for suppliers and for customers. Great business surely is based on great partnerships between all these groups?

One of our beliefs that lie behind the Debating Society is that great oratory skills and debating competitions will build confidence and productivity amongst those that participate and do well.

It is the same for those that want to network and get back to the good of fashioned basics and be involved in the Art of Conversation.

We can make life about process and procurement but few remember or are inspired by process. Ask most who their greatest role model at work has been and it will be someone with conviction, with warmth, with inspiration, with vision.

Developing leaders is not about the complex or the expensive – it is about freely encouraging creativity, expression and people.

One famous former sportsman once argued that the very best possess an inner confidence that they are the best – that they are, as the sportsman described it “the Guvnor that all players would look towards because of their character, will and skill.”

It really is no different in business

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