What clients say about our work:

Sue Holden, Corporate Director – Applied Learning and Research, York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust:

“TBG has worked with our organisation for over five years. Liz has worked within a bespoke Leadership Development programme for senior clinicians and demonstrated current knowledge of the complexity we are managing within Health. She has credibility with the clinicians and her input has always evaluated highly. I have found Liz flexible and able to refresh her input to ensure that it remains relevant and challenging. I would have no reservations in recommending Liz in terms of her delivery and professionalism”

Jeanette Sumler-Hutchinson, Learning and Development at Teesside University:

“We have worked very successfully with TBG over 5 years on both our Senior Management Development and Academic Leadership programmes. Liz has a clear understanding of the current issues facing Higher Education and an engaging style that is appropriate for our staff. All the workshops are interactive and supported by great background reading and resources”

(There are other, in depth examples of our recent work in the field of leadership development in our ‘Case Studies’ section of this website)

The Brafferton Group approach to Leadership and Management

At TBG we believe that leadership is everyone’s business and not just the preserve of a few who are ‘born’ to it. At all levels in our work we see examples  of leadership making a difference or leadership potential successfully developing. However this experience is also countered by the persistent myth, which does appear to limit people’s ambition – that is: leadership cannot be learned. We believe that everyone has the potential to become a more effective leader of themselves and others.

In their classic book, The Leadership Challenge1 James kouzes and Barry Posner state:

“It’s very curious – and revealing – that no one has ever asked, can management be taught? Are managers born or made? Why is it that management is viewed as a set of skills and abilities, while leadership is typically seen as a set of innate personality characteristics? It’s simple. People assume management can be taught. Because they do, hundreds of business schools have been established, and each year thousands of management courses are taught. By assuming that people can learn the abilities, skills, and knowledge associated with good management practices, schools and companies have raised the calibre of managers. They’ve also contributed to the idea that good management skills are attainable.”1

While there are overlaps between leadership and management there are also fundamental differences – leadership compliments management it doesn’t replace it. Below is a summary of the recent differentiations typically being made between leaders and managers:2

Managers Leaders
Are transactional Are transformative
Seek to operate and maintain current systems Seek to challenge and change systems
Accept given objectives and meanings Create new visions and new meanings
Control and monitor Empower
Trade on exchange relationships Seek to inspire and transcend
Have a short-term focus Have a long-term focus
Focus on detail and procedure Focus on the strategic big picture

The ever relentless pace of change, the complexity and uncertainty surrounding many issues, the constant pressure this brings, now requires leaders at all levels to both recognise and respond to these challenges confronting their organisations and the wider community. The Challenges Approach to Leadership3 (see ‘Leadership’ in Resources section) has helped TBG to focus our approach to leadership development by asking individuals, teams and organisations to start by recognising and understanding the challenges they face and identifying what resources in the broadest sense need mobilising to tackle them, then exploring and understanding the specific, and possibly unique context in which they are operating, and finally, developing the individual or collective qualities, competences and skills needed to address those challenges.

The key aspects of this approach for TBG are that personal development, in and of it’s self, may not be sufficient, the context domain is generally neglected in leadership development initiatives, and there is no one right way to take action in confronting the challenges we face.

“Leadership is always situated: always done here, with these particular people; it is always local and contextual. Context is vital: what works here and now may not work in another place and at another time. There is no right way to lead: if you do get it right here and now there is no guarantee that this will work in another situation, or even in the same situation some time later. Generic leadership skills are context-free, but leadership challenges are always contextual, always situated with particular people in specific circumstances.” 4

There are many examples to illustrate this from Marks & Spencer, BP, football team managers and CEOs in the NHS – who are successful in one context facing certain challenges, but when they move to another context with different challenges, they do not appear to be as successful or even fail. So if successful leaders in one context can fail in another it’s pointless looking for a one size fits all leadership model.

In order to lead others you first have to lead yourself – “Your greatest resource is yourself after all” and “Your performance in the outer world is greatly affected by what is going on in your inner world.” 5

Being an effective leader requires a constant combination of taking action on real challenges, working productively with people, searching out feedback on your impact and performance, reflecting and learning from these experiences and continuing with further action and development. Effective leaders come to know themselves through the purposeful use of psychometric instruments, gathering data through individual and wider 360 feedback, having role models, working with coaches and mentors, and taking risks. Through these processes they are continuously developing their self awareness, their emotional intelligence, their resilience, and their confidence. They think strategically and thoughtfully planning their actions rather than being drawn into simple reactions which can be emotionally driven – they always know that there are choices.

At TBG we believe that it is pointless looking for ‘the’ leadership model – leadership is not mechanical it is a performing art. Instead we encourage our clients to tap into the knowledge and insights provided by a wide range of thinkers and practitioners to develop a leadership style that fits the current challenges they face and the context they are operating in but is constantly under review to meet the inevitable changes that come along. Given the motivation and desire leadership skills can be strengthened, honed, and enhanced through practice, feedback and planned development.

In the end “All management is people management, and all leadership is people leadership as there is nothing that a manger or a leader can do that does not depend for it’s effectiveness on the meaning that other people attach to it.” 6

  1. The Leadership Challenge, James M Kouzes & Barry Z Posner, Jossey-Bass, 2003
  2. Leadership in Organisations: Current Issues and Key Trends, Edited by John Storey, Routledge, 2004
  3. A Manager’s Guide to Leadership, Mike Pedler, John Burgoyne & Tom Boydell, McGraw-Hill, 2004
  4. Ibid
  5. The 18 Challenges of Leadership: A practical, structured way to develop your leadership talent, Trevor Waldock & Shenaz Kelly-Rawat, Pearson, 2004
  6. Managing as a Performing Art: New ideas for a world of chaotic change, Peter B Vail, Jossey-Bass, 1990