HR Speak: Leadership

This perennial favourite is once again on everybody's lips, thanks to the challenges of coalition government.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Can Cameron and Clegg build on their personal 'bromance' to keep the rival parties together and maintain a strong and united cabinet?

In business, a leader is defined as one who organises, motivates and takes control of a group in order to achieve specific goals. Leadership and management can be mistakenly conflated - the power of leaders ultimately derives from their ability to influence, inspire and guide colleagues, whereas managers typically operate from a narrower position of technical expertise.

It's HR's job to keep a company's leadership pipeline flowing. This involves spotting potential leaders early in their career, developing them fully (while ensuring they remain with the firm for as long as possible) and managing the expectations of those who don't make the grade.

Once these new leaders have got to the top, HR's job becomes trickier still - to make sure they keep a grip on reality and that their style fits the corporate culture - whether autocratic, democratic or laissez faire.

Factor in the level of competition for top jobs and the influence of office politics and the issue of managing leadership can call for some pretty strong leadership itself.

Then there's the question of horses and courses - Winston Churchill, often cited as the ultimate wartime leader, is held in relatively low esteem for his peacetime achievements. That is something Cameron and Clegg might want to give thought to.

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