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Putting people first in leadership development

Monday, June 20, 2016 - 14:50

By Hamish Williams

Many organisations and industries pay lip service to developing constructive workplace cultures but the public service is frequently the first to set the benchmark when new leadership paradigms are developed.

With the recent release of the Study of Australian Leadership (SAL) by the Centre for Workplace Leadership, many organisations will be interested to benchmark themselves against the results but few will have as rapid a mandate to adopt the report’s findings as those managers and leaders within the public service.

The findings of SAL have been garnering greater media attention for the measured gaps and weaknesses within Australian Leadership than they have for the recommendations on how to improve the situation. The report paints the shortcomings of Australian leadership in a few areas such as low innovation, lack of diversity and dwindling leadership development investment. While this study is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind in Australian history, the findings will not come as a surprise to many experts in the field.

What the report doesn’t point out is the work to improve Australian leadership is already underway and is taking place in public service departments around the country. The Queensland Government for example has already mandated a policy that aims to develop constructive workplace cultures.

What does a constructive workplace culture look like though? Is this yet another program talking the talk without walking the walk? The Queensland Government defines constructive workplace cultures as those that:

  • put Queenslanders first by focusing on what matters to them
  • foster a highly capable, empowered and ethical workforce
  • enable high-performance and support our people to do their very best every time
  • drive teamwork and high-levels of engagement.

While the recent Study of Australian Leadership paints a grim picture of leadership capability in Australia, many public sector organisations are making significant investments in their people through tailored leadership development programs.

The SAL shows that investing in leadership development is positively associated with leader capabilities and self-efficacy, which in turn significantly betters workplace performance and innovation. Yet the findings reveal that many workplaces do not invest in leadership development at all, or invest very little.

The Queensland Government has partnered with the Australian Institute of Management in recent years to build a program designed to provide the strategic leadership development their managers need at every level.

People Matters is a behavioural change program that provides current and aspiring team leaders across the Queensland public sector with practical skills to manage people in the workplace and common workforce challenges. It’s where the rubber meets the road in terms of developing constructive workplace cultures through targeted investment in leadership development.

Contextualised to the Queensland Government, the program begins by outlining the expectations of managers within the Queensland public sector and develops an understanding of how success in these leadership roles is measured. The program then provides participants with a broad overview of the leadership skills that will lead them to success such as communication, performance management and change management.

Leaders and managers who’ve taken part in the program report feeling a renewed confidence in their ability to manage people, performance and change. The program offers them the opportunity to reflect on what they’re doing in their role and whether they’re achieving the best results they can for their people.

For organisations that want to increase innovation, productivity and performance while also improving workplace engagement and diversity, the evidence is clear that an investment in your people is what really makes the difference.

We understand your challenges, whether you’re trying to find the balance between risk management and innovation, struggling to find someone that understands your complex policies and procedures, or trying to find the right balance between technical expertise and management skills, let us work with you on a solution to fit. The public sector relies on building high-performing individuals and teams, as part of a broader focus on departmental performance. Be it accredited courses or customised strategic thinking programs, AIM can work with the public sector to deliver high-quality and effective learning outcomes.

Call 1300 658 337 or visit www.aim.com.au/public-sector