HR directors must make their organisations more leadership centered, says leading HR thinker

Tom Newcombe , 26 Feb 2013


The next big challenge for HR directors is to transform their organisations from being management centered to leadership centered, according to leading HR thinker, John Adair (pictured).

Adair was speaking to HR magazine yesterday at an event in central London, organised by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) where he discussed: The truth about leadership, and said that "not enough" HR directors are making the "leadership transformation".

Adair described the UK as having a "lack of" strong strategic leadership teams at the top of our largest employers.

He told HR magazine: "You only have to take Barclays as an example and the culture change their chief executive is trying to implement and you have to think what will the HR director of Barclays be recommending to him in terms of leadership development at the top.

"The problem is a lot of the country's largest employers - the BBC and NHS were set up before management - demonstration was the name of the game and that bureaucratic, administrative culture crept into our organisations."

He added: "The chairman of the BBC recently said the top 30 people in the BBC never meet, which is astonishing."

Adair who was named number 10 in HR magazine's 2011 most influential UK thinkers, has written over 40 books mainly around the topic of leadership and in 2009 was appointed chair of leadership studies at the United Nations.

He believes that to transform an organisation you have to have good leadership at the top and you must have a strategy for leadership development. He described a chief executive who is "determined" to be a leader as the "best trinity" of all.

"The problem employers have is too many people are filling strategic leadership positions who are not leaders," Adair said.

He added: "We need a total review of what we're doing to develop tomorrow's leaders and we need major employers like Shell and Rolls Royce and bodies like the CIPD to take a lead in this."

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Jazz-leadership provocations

Penelope Tobin 26 Feb 2013

Nothing could be truer! But there's a problem. "Most leaders are the victim of the freedom not to struggle. You have to be completely merciless with yourself." [Keith Jarrett]. How many leaders are brave enough to go put themselves through the challenge of a change process? To put it another'jazz' way..."You know why I don't play ballads any more? Because I like to play ballads so much." [Miles Davis]

The Truth about Leadership

Charone Connell 26 Feb 2013

Professor John Adair will be leading the second face-to-face event in Manchester on Friday 8 March. To find out more and book one of the last remaining places go to

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