Kindness in leadership is key, say county’s business leaders

The importance of kindness in leadership was high on the agenda when 25 business leaders from Lancashire met to tackle the issues facing SMEs.

Organised by Downtown in Business, ( ) the Leaders Breakfast was hosted by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and explored how businesses can benefit from leaders implementing a more compassionate approach.

Other topics discussed included whether leaders should be accountable for enhancing productivity and performance beyond the boundaries of their organisations, the skills and attributes required when recruiting and developing leaders and the impact of emerging technologies on businesses.

A panel consisted of Joel Arber, Pro Vice-Chancellor (External Relations) at UCLan, Dr Eliza Morgan, Director of UCLan’s Leadership Hub and Angie Ridgwell, Chief Executive and Director of Resources at Lancashire County Council. The debate was chaired by Karen Hirst, Managing Director at Eric Wright Group.

Joel Arber said: “The impact businesses have on their communities is more important than ever before. As a result, we’re seeing the nature of leadership changing.

“In today’s world, authoritarian leaders have less influence, with kindness in leadership now becoming a core driver of inclusive growth. Values-based leadership underpinned by respect and integrity is essential and proven to be far more effective than leading with fear.

“Leadership in this kind of environment is less about the notion of an individual leader, but more about a visible team of leaders.

“While it’s inevitable that, in business, difficult decisions need to be made and hard conversations must be had, a big difference can be made by altering the tone and the way in which things are said. The Virgin ethic of ‘if you look after your staff, your staff will look after your customers’ is something which businesses could really benefit from if they want to ensure effective leadership.”

Karen Hirst added: “Having participation from the companies represented was a useful insight into what businesses feel is important. A number of interesting points were discussed, including the difference between leadership and management and the importance of listening and respecting your team, in addition to effective communication.”

The next round table event, the Place Making and Inward Investment Breakfast, is set to take place on October 24 at UCLan. 


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