Online Leadership Portal – Part 1 of 2

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Findings from business-to-business market research specialist B2B International have helped establish an innovative online leadership resource

The Northern Leadership Academy (NLA) is a pioneering partnership between the business and management schools of the Universities of Lancaster, Leeds and Liverpool. Its overarching mission, to be achieved through more and better leadership in the region, is to boost Northern productivity, helping close the multi-billion economic gap between the North and the average for the rest of England.

One of many deliverable themes for the NLA was the development of a leadership portal. B2B International, with expertise in the academic sector, was commissioned to determine the content and functionality of this leadership portal and evaluate the final product.

Research began in October 2006, looking at what online resources were currently available and conducting focus groups with individuals of varying levels of leadership who worked in the private, public, community and voluntary sectors, and with business/MBA students. The portal was launched in spring this year with further refinement now due. B2B is currently undertaking an e-survey on the website to elicit views.

The NLA’s core objective is the promotion of distributed leadership across all sectors and industries in the North. This is based on a principle of collaborative working and shared responsibility, as opposed to focussing on the traits, behaviour and actions of a sole or single leader making key commercial and strategic decisions in isolation. The new paradigm means that the heroic, natural-born leader gives way to distributed leadership with collective responsibility. It leads to high levels of personal responsibility and performance, encourages learning by doing and innovation whilst enabling the followers to feel empowered and involved.

Varying styles of leadership

B2B’s research shows marked differences in leadership across sectors. In the corporate/ private world, leadership development was found to be central – a leader was essential to develop staff to deliver profit to shareholders. In the public sector, leaders were more compliant, managing services for the public good and busy with direction and responsibility. A leader within the SME sector was a true manager as he or she had to survive in a competitive environment and needed to control costs and gain business. A more reluctant leader emerged in the voluntary sector, keen to help others develop and be seen as inclusive, collaborative and democratic.

Part 2 will be published on Monday

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