So Alexandros, tell us a bit about your experience and background
I have worked in academia for the last 31 years, studying at the University of Athens, University of York before eventually graduating with a PhD in Industrial & Business Studies from Warwick Business School. I also worked extensively with Hull University and the University of Sheffield before taking up my current role at Birmingham City University Business School.
Throughout my academic career I’ve developed a large amount of experience participating in various executive teaching programmes as well as research and consultancy projects. In August 2020, the Academy of Management awarded me with the Benedictine University Award for Outstanding Research Work on Ethical Issues in Consulting. More recently I’ve co-authored books on Neuroscience for Leaders (Kogan Page) and Managing People in SMEs in Turbulent Contexts (Routledge).
Alongside my writing and teaching, I have been involved in the design and development of one of the major teaching modules of the Help To Grow programme, namely Employee Engagement & Leading Change. I have also been involved in training the trainers around the logics of this module.
Why should leadership and leading change in particular, be a priority for businesses and how is it directly linked to business growth and success?
Managing and leading people has become a critical success factor for organisations looking to become more effective. Since the mid-1990s, organisations have been going through rapid, fundamental and continuous changes in the way they do business. These changes have increased the level of complexity within both organisational and business environments.
Whether one reviews these changes in terms of globalisation, reengineering, downsizing, economic crises, pandemics etc, there is more and more evidence to suggest that businesses that focus on how to lead and manage people through these changes are more likely to be successful.
In this respect, day-to-day leadership and change management within today’s organisational system is fundamental in helping an organisation not just achieve growth but thrive.
What are the key leadership challenges businesses are facing in today’s business climate?
There are a lot of challenges that without any doubt businesses are facing in today’s environment. However, following the rationale of my argument above, I would insist that the greatest challenge was, is and (most probably) will be, to lead people within the current contexts. A context that is far more complex and faster changing and uncertain than ever before.
The context becomes even more challenging if we simply consider that nowadays people working in various organisations are much better educated, have faster access to information and (a lot of them) have higher overall expectations from life and their careers in particular than their equals 30 or 40 years ago.
To put simply, leading people nowadays is much more difficult and challenging in comparison to leading people during the 1970s, 80s or 90s.
What are the key areas and actions you feel business leaders should be partaking in to improve or solve these challenges?
In today’s business environments we need to emphasise more on leadership rather than leaders.
Leadership involves everyone in the organisation since as we say in our book (Neuroscience for Leaders), leadership is not a science or an art but a behaviour.
Everyone inside an organisation needs to have more or less a leadership attitude on things that concern themselves, and can all spend time learning to be better leaders. Or to put it simply, nowadays organisations need people to be able to understand when to lead and when to follow attempting to achieve something collectively.
In terms of professional managers, I would argue that they need to cultivate further an agile approach to management. This means that the manager is the one who does not explain the ‘path’ (provide orders), but who instead creates the conditions for his/her employees to look for the ‘path’ themselves and then walk down it independently.
How is the Help To Grow programme designed to support business leaders in their quest to tackle leadership challenges?
The design of all the modules in the Help To Grow programme follow the above logic. The training of people participating in this programme is based on the idea of making them independent thinkers primarily, rather than doers.
In other words, the Help To Grow programme helps people (re)consider how they lead their people as well as their businesses, attempting not to gibe them into solutions that they need, but to find the solutions by themselves, since they are the best source of these solutions.
The Help To Grow programme develops leaders of the future that are able to adjust their leadership behaviours on the needs of today’s current complex business environments.
In addition to the Help To Grow programme what type of ideas should business leaders be looking at to help them grow and improve?
The truth is that there are plenty of ideas that someone can identify and try to apply. Some of them work better than others, but all of them depend heavily on the context of the individual’s experience.
One idea for example that we have worked and tested widely is described extensively in our book ‘Neuroscience for Leader’ (Kogan Page). We call it the Brain Adaptive Leadership framework and it is based on neuroscientific as well as behavioural science findings.
This idea has been developed through practice, research, reading and practice again. It is continuously evolving in order to respond to the dynamism of current business settings, and it is targeted at making people think and act as leaders (and followers) taking into account always the context.
Looking to improve your approach to leadership as part of your business development? Find out more about our Help To Grow programme, enquire below and a member of the team will be in touch to let you know about the next series of courses.