British bosses believe they are leading the way

Past winners of the National Business Awards

The research shows that both bosses and employees appreciate good leadership with over 90% of those surveyed saying that it’s the most important influence on the success of an organisation.

Over 80 per cent of employees agree that having a good leader will have an impact on their own career progression, and they also believe that having a good boss inspires greater loyalty and motivation in them.

Dame Helen Alexander, National Business Awards Chair of Judges said: “Leadership is important for every business. Good leadership can inspire a team and therefore the whole organisation. The research shows the importance of strong leadership to employees, with leaders themselves also appreciating how vital it is to success.

It’s interesting to see that individual employees are motivated by their own success, but bosses see that success as a way of gaining for the whole business. The National Business Awards celebrate great leadership. I’m looking forward to seeing what this year’s entries bring.”

Britain’s workers believe the top five personality traits of a good leader are honesty, good communication skills, being hardworking, trustworthiness and intelligence, which was similar to those also chosen by bosses. Both groups also said their top business leader of all time was Sir Richard Branson, followed by Bill Gates.

When asked to attribute specific traits to top leaders, Branson again shone through coming top for qualities such as good communication skills, competitiveness, confidence and being hardworking, although Lord Sugar came top for his deal making skills.

Different perspectives around leadership begin to show when asked how good actual bosses are – 86 per cent of bosses think they are good leaders, but a third of workers think their leader is ‘ok’, a similar number say their leader is ‘good’ and one in 10 rate their boss as poor.

In contrast, the top five personality traits of bad leaders according to employees are untrustworthiness, a patronising attitude, poor communication, instilling fear in workers and overconfidence.

Leaders themselves rated poor communication, untrustworthiness, instilling fear in workers, indecisiveness and being patronising to staff as the worst traits – the main difference being that workers saw ‘overconfidence’ as a poor trait, but leaders thinking that ‘indecisiveness’ was a bigger problem.

Employees are much more critical of patronising behaviour, with almost half saying this is something that bad leaders do and more women thinking it’s a fault compared to their male colleagues.

Alan Chambers, former Royal Marine Commando, was awarded an MBE for ‘exceptional leadership in extreme adversity’ for his successful unsupported British expedition to the North Pole.

He commented: “One style does not fit all situations and teams, but to reduce it to one style or model of leadership is to over simplify it and will ignite team dynamic complications; this is evident because not every style of leadership fits every personality. Every leader has their own style, but a good leader can adapt dependant on what they see. There is no one holy grail to leadership styles.”

The nation’s business leaders did point towards altering their leadership style if they thought it would improve business morale and profitability. More than 70 per cent of leaders say they have listened to staff feedback to help improve their leadership style, with 44 per cent going on leadership courses and 39 per cent modelling themselves on, or learning from, other leaders.

The majority of leaders also thought it would inspire them and their team to win an award, like a National Business Award, with the majority of employees agreeing it would be inspiring.

“Aspiration sits at the core of a successful business culture,” commented Professor Chris Bones, Manchester Business School. “Being recognised for what you do is a key motivator for everyone. Putting yourself and your business forward lets you hear from others what they think you do well and where you could do better. Aspiring to be the best you can and being recognised for your achievements is a very positive act of leadership.”

The study comes as the 2013 National Business Awards opens for entries to organisations of all sizes from all sectors across the UK. Recognising excellence, innovation and ethics in UK plc, the twelfth annual National Business Awards will celebrate a range of achievements through accolades including Leader of the Year, the Leadership Diversity Award and the Smith & Williamson Entrepreneur of the Year.

Organisations from all regions across the UK, from SMEs and social enterprises to FTSE 100s and large family firms, are invited to register for the Awards – which have distinguished themselves by the quality of businesses taking part and the robust judging process.

Led by Dame Helen Alexander as Chair of Judges, nearly 100 multi disciplinary CEOs and senior directors, including Business Matters owners, Capital Business Media group MD Richard Alvin and our own online content manager Rebecca Jones, participate as judges, bringing their expertise and insight to the three-tier judging process.

Alex Evans, Programme Director of the National Business Awards said: “The biggest motivator for entering the National Business Awards is validation for an approach and model that can be used to attract talent, investment and new business. This research not only demonstrates the importance of visible and effective leadership but a powerful endorsement to set you apart from your competitors.”

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