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Let's Talk Leadership

Ask any of your work colleagues, friends or family about who they would class as an exceptional leader and you’ll probably get a list containing the usual suspects: political figures such as Winston Churchill or Margaret Thatcher, industry leaders like Jack Welch and sporting heroes like Martin Johnson will also make an appearance! But what makes a truly great leader? And, even more intriguing, how can we develop great leaders within our organisation?

What makes a truly great leader?

The million dollar question, which is usually coupled with are great leaders born or made? So much has been written about this subject, just type "great leaders" into the search engine, Google, and you’ll get page after page detailing quotes from great leaders, characteristics, biographies and opinions and viewpoints from every source imaginable. I don’t seek to answer the question for you, and I’m not sure that it is even possible to, given that everyone has a different view point. Instead I can give you a straightforward view which should make you think about leadership in a different way:

  • Leadership is not about position. Just because you hold the position of Director or have Manager in your job title it doesn’t make you a great leader. Many managers are competent in managing their people but few can lead. Part of the problem here is that for many organisations leadership only becomes necessary when people hit the management scale. At best (and I accept I’m generalising) they can expect to be put on a management development programme of which one module might be around leadership or at worst it's assumed that they will simply develop or pick up the skills that they need. Reality is that this simply doesn’t happen. What organisations need to do is make leadership a core expectation at any level regardless of the role.
  • Leadership can be developed. To do this focus is needed on making the behaviours (not the traits or characteristics or attributes) required by a leader relevant and correctly scaled for the role being modelled. They need to be transparent and easily observable so that the leadership expectation is clear and measurable. They should be planned into the performance management process, linked to training and development and viewed as an integral part of the organisation.
  • Leadership is about ownership. When people own issues that face them or the organisation, they begin the process of taking part in finding solutions or designing action plans. Empowerment is connected to this point too. Managers who demonstrate a command and control style will simply stifle the leadership potential within their team. Those that empower their team members will provide a grounding from which leadership potential can be nurtured.
  • Leadership helps to free up management time. Widespread leadership behaviour reduces management time needed for checking, controlling, expediting, telling and generally coping, thus freeing the managers up to complete more value-added activity such as contributing to the strategic direction of the organisation.
  • People love being leaders – fact!

How can we develop great leaders within our organisation?

This is going to sound strange coming from a training organisation but the way to develop great leaders is not by simply taking them through a 2, 3, 4 or 5 day training programme. This won’t give you the leadership cadre you’re looking for. Sure, training can play a part in the overall development but should be complemented by other activities.

The starting point has to be to define what the leadership expectations are for your organisation and then translate them into clear behaviours. We have a clear point of view about where those expectations should be drawn from which is demonstrated in our 4SLeadership™ model below which we have developed in conjunction with our sister company, Predaptive:

Structured Training's 4SLeadership Model

But what about Passion? Empathy? Integrity? In fact all of the things that reliable sources list as important for a leader. These are all covered in 4SLeadership™, the key to its success is to make it as simple as possible to ensure that leadership becomes something which people can easily relate to and understand. Transparent and observable behaviours underpin the model which if properly embedded (and yes we can help you with that too) make leadership a real part of the culture of an organisation and something which can help to drive a multitude of other areas such as Management Development, Succession Planning and Performance Management.


If you'd like to find out how 4SLeadership™ can help your organisation, please contact:

Claudine McClean
T:  01789 734300


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