Blog Ten Questions on What Makes Good Leadership

Ten Questions on What Makes Good Leadership

Passionate about exemplary customer service, Andrew McMillan creates an unwavering connection with every audience he addresses as an engaging after dinner and keynote speaker.

I’m usually asked to speak about customer experience and employee engagement, given my 28 years at John Lewis that’s hardly surprising.  However, many clients have recently asked me to focus on the leadership aspects of engaged employees which, along with a definition of what the organisation wants to be for its customers to add context, is critical and often the key failure point for many organisations. 

The key to this is really engaging leadership, yet in a recent survey 63% of employees said they would rather have a new manager than a pay rise – clearly we have some way to go in achieving this!  The clue is in the words and their definition: 


A person responsible for controlling or administering an organisation.


The action of leading a group of people or an organisation, or the ability to do this. 

Which sounds more modern and appealing to you?  Which type do you think the 63% who want a new manager work for?  Unquestioning deference and control has gone in all but a minority of organisations.  Consequently managers need to earn the right to lead, and inspiring leadership is what many employees are looking for in an uncertain workplace. 

Yet statistically there is a big challenge to changing this.  It is believed that only one in ten managers have a natural affinity for leadership with two in ten are likely to become effective through training.  So, seven out of ten managers can’t lead – a strong correlation with the 63% of people who want a new manager! 

I’m not suggesting I have all of the answers but here, based on over 35 years personal experience of both leading teams and helping others do likewise, are my top ten questions with which to assess your leadership performance:   


Are you clear on the context of your role - manager (operational specialist), leader of a team or a combination of the two?


Does your boss have the same interpretation of your role?


Do you have the opportunity to coach and lead your team if that is a requirement?


Do you have the skills to coach and lead your team?


Do you have the inherent self-confidence to assume a leadership role within your team?


Does your role primarily support and facilitate the needs of those that report to you?


Do your team know clearly what you expect of them as a group and as individuals?


Do you spend more time catching people doing something right rather than catching people doing something wrong?


Do you ever walk past performance or behaviour that you know to be unacceptable, thereby sanctioning it?


For your immediate reports, do you know the names of their partner, children, football team, hobbies and interests etc. so you can have a genuine personal conversation with them?

How many questions could you truthfully answer ‘yes’ to?  It should have been nine of the ten. With numerous polls suggesting that only 13% of employees are engaged at work means getting this right - and becoming one of the three in ten managers able to lead their team - ensures the great reputation for customer experience will undoubtedly follow. 

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia and The Official White House Photostream. Author: White House (Pete Souza) / Maison Blanche (Pete Souza) Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, confer together while attending the G-8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy, July 8, 2009.

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