Speaking to an audience of female representatives from some of the mortgage industry’s most notable firms, Keith Bleasdale highlighted the key points of leadership and its evolution across the last century.
Leadership is all about change
Keith Bleasdale said: “If you don’t want to change, don’t get a leader, because they will be a nuisance.”
As a matter of fact, the role of the leader is changing. Leaders are always trying to do something different or do what they can do, but do it better.
Leadership started to change radically almost 150 years ago. The industrial revolution marked the birth of the modern workplace. “If we turn the clock back 1,000 years, during the agricultural revolution, the leaders would probably be strong men and land owners. And at the start of the industrial revolution, the leader probably would be the man with the biggest factory.”
However, domination isn’t something that stopped at the start of the industrial revolution. This was the time when children were chained to machines and beaten with a rod at the foreman’s command.
But the 80s saw the start of performance-related pay, management by objectives, what today it is called performance management.
This marked the passage from domination to negotiation, the second theme of leadership. Negotiation means to give the opportunity to get a reward as a result of an achievement.
The 90s marked the birth of the third big theme of leadership: inspiration. “This is when your job has some meaning,” Bleasdale said.
The fourth stage is actually the current new word in leadership: co-creation. It is based on the concept that none of us is as smart as all of us.
“The best outcomes in a business emerge when everybody contributes to an idea. Now it doesn’t mean that everything is done by committee, because that’s called chaos, but co-creation is about getting the right people involved at the right time, and no one person thinking that they have the answers,” he added.
However, Keith Bleasdale clarified that all these leadership themes are not replacing the previous themes but they are actually building on them.
Coaching, feedback, handling conflicts as emerging skills of leadership
Coaching is about having the ability to see that other people have talents within them. The next skill is feedback.
Bleasdale said: “A good framework for coaching is actually that feedback is really important. You can give feedback in a much better way if you’re careful about how you do it. When you make feedback just an active part of personal development, you transform your leadership.
“If you really do want to screw over your colleagues, don’t give them any feedback. If you really want to help them, be bold, get in there on a regular basis and say that was good.”
The final skill is handling conflict, in terms of a difference of opinion.
Authenticity, openness to learning, resilience
At the end of his two-hour presentation, Keith Bleasdale had fully discussed three main themes: authenticity, openness to learning and resilience.
Bleasdale said: “Authenticity, knowing who you are and what you’re about, and being honest and true to yourself I think is the key: be a first-class version of yourself. Know who you are, know what you stand for, be bold, be courageous.”
The second main trait is openness to learning, in terms that no one has to feel under pressure as an expert but as someone constantly learning as things evolve.
The final one is resilience.
“It comes from the Latin word resiliens, and that means to bounce back. The best metaphor is actually like a pole vaulter’s pole. It bounces back into shape, so although it bends and feels the strain, it bounces back. So resilient people feel the pain but they’re able to bounce back.
“If you want to develop your careers beyond the elevated status you’ve already got to, your ability to be resilient will be key and there’s all sort of strategies and psychologies that help us become more resilient. And of course, your resilience can help others be resilient also,” he concluded.