Responsible leadership

Meta4 Business Coaching

This blog post has been produced for the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce as part of the 2019 Growth Through People campaign.

Growth Through People is the Chamber’s annual campaign aiming to help local firms boost productivity and grow through improved leadership and people management skills. In 2019 this involves 15 free events, workshops and training sessions taking place between 25 February and 26 March, along with thought leadership videos and blog content such as this.

Thanks to our sponsors – the University of Birmingham, Aston University, Curium Solutions and CIPD - all events are free to attend. Interested readers can find out more here.

What is responsible leadership?

Responsible leadership is considering your organisation as a whole; employees, contractors, suppliers, the environment – ensuring you are viewing your organisation from all these different perspectives. It doesn’t matter if you are a sole trader or a corporate business, all our businesses involve others and the place and environment in which we work.

Your employees

In recent times businesses have seen a huge rise in the number of mental health related cases, increased stress levels amongst workers, work related illnesses as well as a greater need for (more) flexible working. How do organisations achieve all of this, whilst meeting the needs of their customers and maintaining profitability? Where do they start?

For organisations from small through to large it’s simply about getting the conversation started.

Think about the discussion points you want to start introducing within your organisation; starting with your employees first, as they will ultimately help drive the changes. Bring up discussion points in team meetings, 1-1’s or better still start with a staff wide survey to gage their thoughts so your conversation can be driven more specifically towards their most desired outcomes first.

‘Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.’ Sir Richard Branson

Your suppliers

Where do your suppliers fit into helping you be a more responsible leader? Newton told us, ‘every action has an equal and opposite reaction.’ All we decide and act upon has an impact elsewhere.

Therefore, keeping a level of responsibility across the board will ultimately mean high standards of ethical business practice are being maintained for all elements and working parts of your company Imagine your business has happy workers, suppliers and customers…

Having Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) clearly in place are key to ensuring standards and boundaries are in place. Whilst sharing and discussing them with openness and transparency with all involved parties will mean everybody is clear on what is expected from them (and as importantly what isn’t!) so objectives, targets and deadlines are met in a timely, efficient and customer focused manner.

Again, start by asking for feedback in the form of reviews, testimonials and case studies. Requesting feedback in a variety of ways can really help you to understand how others have felt working with your organisation, how you work together and what gaps there are for better ways of working.

Your environment and community

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) was once a voluntary initiative and is now becoming a mandatary scheme within certain levels of business. Within smaller businesses teams look to their leader for the differences that can be made on a more local and immediate level.

Collaborating and volunteering is one way to get your CSR commitments underway and is hugely beneficial for all involved. Local charities with more pulls on their resources coupled with less government funding means they are seeking help in different ways than before – reaching out to local businesses to volunteer their time for mentoring, placements for job seekers, help and advice on day to day business running as well as ways in which to engage with the community – it’s not always about the money.

The return to your business on this ‘investment’ can be wide reaching. Staff members get to experience fulfilment outside of the office; learning new skills, enhancing existing ones and increasing confidence. Work together to gain press coverage and PR to showcase these positive changes and collectively we start experiencing the advancement of small businesses, the charity and the local community. All business leaders engaging and promoting this level of collaboration will see the increase of GDP to your local town. Time for more responsible leadership?

Clare Whalley is a Business Coach, living and working in Sutton Coldfield.  Clare works with fellow business owners to help them create a business they love, using strategies and tools which help business owners get to more of the clients they love to work with, with more consistency and ease. You can book a free business strategy session via her website