‘Old school’ leadership remains widespread across the UK

Traditional ‘old school’ leadership practices remain widespread across the UK despite today’s workforce demanding less autocratic approaches to leadership. This is according to the O.C. Tanner Institute’s 2020 Global Culture Report which surveyed 20,000 employees and leaders across the world including almost 2,000 from the UK.

The research reveals that almost half of UK leaders (47 per cent) won’t give up control of anything and 45 per cent of workers say their leader focuses more on evaluating their performance than helping them to develop. On top of this, 41 per cent of workers say that their leaders are regarded as the only important employees at their organisation.

These findings highlight that traditional styles of leadership in which leaders are “bosses” or “supervisors” remain common. In organisations that follow ‘old school’ leadership practices, a dangerously high percentage of decision-making power and control is concentrated amongst a small percentage of designated leaders, and the focus is on getting workers to follow leaders’ ways of doing things rather than on mentorship, development and shared responsibility.

Many of today’s leaders and companies approach leadership traditionally, using age-old practices that inhibit development, stunt innovation, create negative employee experiences and perpetuate chronically stressed workplace cultures”, says Robert Ordever, MD of workplace culture expert, O.C Tanner Europe.

Despite ‘old school’ practices being common, today’s generations aren’t accepting of this approach and are beginning to reject them outright, forcing organisations to rethink and reshape the way leaders lead.”

The research found that companies supportive of the traditional leadership approaches score poorly on employee experience and engagement as well as all six essential aspects of workplace culture – purpose, opportunity, success, appreciation, wellbeing and leadership. They also have a decrease in odds of growing revenue and increased odds of laying off employees.

Ordever comments,

There is overriding evidence that leaders who lead with a ‘boss’ mentality must alter their approach if they’re to drive organisational success. They must become mentors, advocates and influencers who share leadership and support, encourage and inspire their teams to greatness.”

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