• Dr Chan Abraham

Why we need a Renaissance of Leadership


Employee sickness absence continues to cost UK employers in excess of £29 billion annually. This staggering news discloses dismal repetitions in the story of “broken Britain” and demonstrates the pressing need for a Renaissance of Leadership.

For 17 years I led Luminus, a socially responsible business that provided homes for people in need, and focused on progressing towards our 2020 Vision along The Road to Renewal. I created these concepts since they helped our thousands of staff, customers and partners to understand and be inspired by what we got out of bed for each day!

Our people understood that it was about working with others to help achieve sustainable solutions to the dysfunction that is endemic in communities and neighbourhoods, and is mirrored in much of the working population.

Our staff became the champions of our message, but were not the originators of its source code. That had to come from elsewhere.

Leadership drives success

Put simply, I believe that leadership drives success. It was my responsibility to create the vision and the environment in which people would believe, work towards and help to achieve it.

“Changing the world right where we are” was one of the many shorthand expressions I introduced, along with other maxims and easy-to-remember sayings. I felt that if I could help people easily and quickly to grasp what we were seeking to do then there was a good possibility that it would become a powerful influence in their everyday work and living.

It succeeded. We succeeded. Together - despite many challenges from competitors and not a few attacks from external agencies that should really have known better.

The Luminus experience shows that inspired employees deliver inspirational service.

If your people love what they do they are more likely to help your business succeed. By contrast, if they feel work is to be endured rather than enjoyed, that it is a Monday to Friday kind of dying. That may undermine your best efforts to be a high performer.

In national surveys, when employees were asked whether they were proud to work for their company, the benchmark was 74%. In Luminus, it was 93%. That result was replicated in all other questions asked of employees about how positively they felt towards the Company.

Leadership is uniquely sustaining

Leadership is also about sustaining the enthusiasm and motivation of those you lead.

In Luminus it resulted in the staff team delivering industry-beating customer approval ratings; a growing housing portfolio bucking the trend of a worldwide economic recession; winning RoSPA’s[1] Gold Award and President’s Medal for 12 consecutive years of excellent health and safety; twice hitting the No.2 spot for The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For and a bucketful of other awards, the number of which outstripped other businesses.

A Renaissance of Leadership

One of the most significant areas in which we can challenge ourselves is the quality of leadership, which is why I believe the UK needs a renaissance of leadership. Leaders need to understand this: how what they do, and the way they live affects their people, their struggles and the effectiveness with which they cope with the uncertainties of modern life.

There is no room here for massaged egos and hubris, reliance on institutional power or game-playing.

This kind of leadership creates a language that transforms organisation culture from being generally negative to mostly positive. It moves people from the unhealthy British preoccupation with pessimism to a reality-based optimistic outlook.

It demands that leaders are generally in touch with their people, a behaviour that needs much more attention than it evidently receives at present.

Ultimately, it enables progress on The Road to Renewal and, for that, we need a renaissance of leadership.

[1] The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

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