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Modern day alchemy transforming accidental managers into conscious leaders

Again and again, today’s companies are told that the key to adding value and increasing market share is to dive into the digital revolution, implementing AI and investing in automation. At CMI we know that embracing technology is important - but actually, the best way to add long-term, sustainable value to your business, is to transform your ‘accidental managers’ into ‘conscious leaders’.

Investing in management and leadership tangibly boosts performance. Research shows that investing in the professional development of managers provides a 23% boost to an individual’s performance and a 32% boost to productivity. Management training is also proven to increase the use of best-practice management styles by 50% - CMI research has found that these management styles result in a more engaged, happier and more productive workforce.

Ultimately though, management and leadership development is not about productivity, it's about individuals. The personal level is where the transformative effects of management training can be seen most starkly. CMI found that amongst chartered managers, 92% report greater self awareness and 90% have improved self confidence. Confident managers get things done: 73% of chartered managers report meeting or exceeding their targets, 86% say they have made operational improvements within their organisations and 80% report developing new products or services.

Despite being a key cause of the UK’s productivity gap, nearly 3 in every 4 UK managers remain untrained in management practice. CMI estimates there are 2.4 million ‘accidental managers’ in the UK today - managers who have received no training and are expected intuitively to know how best to support and organise their colleagues. You wouldn’t hire a tradesperson with no knowledge of their profession; why is it acceptable to do so with managers?

So how do you transform accidental managers into conscious leaders? It turns out it’s much easier than turning lead into gold.

Companies need to invest in their managers. Management apprenticeships provide one way to equip and empower managers, whether those just starting out in their first management role or those more experienced senior managers who are looking to take their first steps into the boardroom. And these have proved very popular with employers and apprentices alike. In fact, we’ve just celebrated the third anniversary of the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship - the UK’s most popular degree apprenticeship.

Leaders need to push universities to embed employability in all levels of education. CMI’s 2018 report, 21st Century Leaders, identified that the debate about improving employability and building management and leadership skills is not limited to business and management students. 70% of managers surveyed said they want all students to have access to management, enterprise and leadership modules to improve employability. Many employers also recognise the value added by professional bodies working with universities to build employability: 66% of managers said they want degrees to come with professional accreditation. And rightly so: in 2018, graduates from CMI dual-accredited courses enjoyed a 10 percentage point employability boost over graduates from non-accredited business courses.

Companies need to embrace diversity. According to Mckinsey, workplace gender equality could add £150bn to the UK economy by 2025. Full representation of BAME individuals across the labour market would be worth £24bn a year to the UK economy. These are figures no Chancellor would sniff at. Business leaders need to make diversity a priority: they need to ensure their companies collect robust data on diversity pay, make closing the gap a public KPI, speak loudly about the benefits of diversity and encourage managers at all levels to mentor and sponsor colleagues.

Finally, leaders at all levels must recognise they have to earn trust from their colleagues. Actions will always speak louder than words, and regardless of how senior a manager may be, they must “live” a company’s values. CMI knows the following five behaviours of conscious leaders are key to building trust within an organisation - they:

● Share their thinking

● Admit to mistakes

● Encourage people to raise issues

● Be more inspirational

● Uphold company values

When leaders reflect these values in everyday actions and prime their talent pipelines with diverse candidates, their companies will very quickly find they’re worth their weight in gold.


Author: CMI

Published 14 Feb2019

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