People have coined a lot of phrases as a result of Covid. “The Great Resignation” is the latest, but perhaps one of the most telling.
There appears to be a pattern of disenchanted employees leaving their jobs as a result of their lockdown experience (good or bad). This seems to be widespread across business in the Global North countries.
Some people have left their jobs because lockdown made them realise they could be happier and more productive working for themselves. Other people have left their jobs because they wanted a whole new way of life, having worked from home for so long. And then there are the people who would have happily stayed, had their boss not been such a problem. This last group are the ones on whom I am focusing in this article.
People leave bad bosses
This is a truism, yes. However, that grain of truth in the saying is a real problem when businesses are seeking to recover the global pandemic and its economic impact. There are simply too many bosses doing a bad job of managing and leading. This is actually driving talent out of businesses that haven’t spotted the problem, into the arms of more innovative, forward-thinking and self-aware organisations.
Organisations don’t become innovative and self-aware by themselves. Someone in a leadership role decides that is the way forward. In fact, it is often decided by someone with a real drive for excellence and success. That person will probably inspire, but they will definitely set a clear new vision and path, which others really want to follow.
This is massively important to me – it’s what my company does, coach and mentor leaders to introduce sustainable change for good. In addition, however, it is important to me as an individual. That’s why I set up the Future Leaders Breakfast® (FLB®) club back in 2017.
The club was formed specifically because I could see local businesses run by well-intentioned people who simply couldn’t manage properly, let alone lead. In fact, these people were often set up to fail, because they were trained to be superbly successful fee earners in their chosen profession … but no one had ever shown them how to manage a business.
Consequently, everything was about the fees and the income, instead of the major asset – the people who worked in the business. I saw poor communication around organisations, messaging to staff that really didn’t motivate, and poor acknowledgement of staff contributions and successes. Indeed, I even noticed a lack of basic “Hello”, “Please” and “Thank you”.
How FLB®s break the cycle
The aim of FLB®s is to create a fun way for more junior staff in organisations to learn how to break that cycle. We welcome businesses, charities, public sector. Essentially, anyone who is new to management is welcome. Actually, they don’t have to be junior, just self-aware enough to know they don’t know enough to do a good job as a leader. We have welcomed a range of senior leaders who were new in the role and wanted a way to network – and learn discreetly.
The club offers learning about the essentials of leadership and management, based on using me as the case study for each session, the “lab rat”. I refer to myself as “the lab rat” because the people who attend the FLB®s can test their learning on me as much as they like! Primarily, FLB®s are networking events. That’s why people come to them at the start. Then, they start to make new contacts. By coming back each month, those contacts get stronger. At the same time, their learning gets deeper and richer, as they acquire new skills and swap experiences with their fellow club members.
In addition to having a “lab rat” with a 30-year career to pick through, regulars at FLB®s will build a sound library of leadership theory. They will have a chance to explore a whole range of topics.
Here are a few we discuss:
- task-focused leadership
- situational leadership
- popular theories on leadership behaviour such as Covey and Maxwell
- motivational theories
- performance development
- time management and prioritisation
- successful management of hybrid teams
I could go on.
Despite what I think is a fascinating list of things to explore, FLB® attendees mostly come for the networking. They come for the peer group support and shared cohort experience. In truth, they come for laughs, checking in with peers and even brokering deals.
FLB®s offer all that. They bring together a great mix of people and business backgrounds. We encourage people to have 1:1s outside of FLB®s, to build their network. We’ve even seen business done at the networking tables, which was a nice bonus! Above all, they’re fun. The atmosphere is light-hearted, aiming to get people’s days off to the best start possible. We offer a simple breakfast as a starter too, as an additional reward for getting up and out early.
The Great Resignation didn’t start with us!
And the added benefit of attending FLB®s is that people learn how to be better leaders than some of their current employers. That can help them to progress up their firms to leadership positions where they can introduce real, positive change. It can also help them to realise that they are in the wrong organisation, the wrong discipline or even in the wrong industry completely! Luckily, for the big majority of our regulars, it’s led to promotions and clear communications with their line management.
While we won’t actively encourage anyone to be part of The Great Resignation, we will offer club members the chance to see leadership from an ethical angle, and to build their confidence to give it a try. Who knows where that could take them? Who knows where that could take YOU?
Image: courtesy of tapanakorn via Canva