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Leadership development

Technical specialist vs. Technical leader – what is the difference?


We kicked off a busy autumn with the launch of this year’s Technical Leadership Programme with the Environment Agency. We developed this bespoke programme for the EA over four years ago and are extremely proud of its success. Over the next six months we will be working with over 100 technical leaders up and down the country, exploring what makes them leaders as well as experts.

It was an enjoyable couple of days in Birmingham and really great to see the cohort engage with, and challenge the topics we covered – exploring leadership styles, the impact of emotional intelligence on relationships, and the power of effective communication.

Personally, I was grateful to once again have the opportunity to work with a group of leaders who were so willing to be vulnerable with each other and support one another on their first module together.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the work we do with leaders with a technical specialism – you can browse some of our case studies and of course we’re always available for a chat.

Want to follow the technical leadership story? Use the Blog Updates button to stay in touch.

ABP discussion: Recruiting and developing the best leaders

At today’s regular meeting of the south-west division of the Association for Buisness Psychology (ABP) we discussed the challenges leaders face in ‘non-standard hierarchical organisations’ such as matrix structures, voluntary organisations, and co-operatives.

The general consensus was that effective leaders in these types of structures/organisations need to have highly sophisticated skills to be able to manage relationships and successfully motivate their teams/volunteers - in the absence of more ‘traditional’ hierarchy and obligations. French and Raven’s seminal research on the bases of power provides a useful perspective on just this.

Furthermore employee engagement is absolutely critical to success.

Leadership summits that work

This is an interesting article and debate started by Harvard Business Review. For today’s time poor organisations and leaders, what makes for an effective summit? Is there a ‘magic formula’ or is it sometimes that these large, high-profile sessions need to move with the times and continually evolve the format? It would be interesting to get a UK perespective.

In reading the article and ensuing debate, there are also some interesting parallels to be made to effective leadership training. Although the objectives are perhaps slightly different, the underlying principles are the same. To make sure leadership training (at all levels) delivers results, clarification of objectives, engagement, interaction, flexibility and follow-up are critical. Delivering the training in a relevant and time efficient way is also key.

Leadership skills in times of change

Yesterday we went to the HR Change and Transformation Conference in London. Despite the diverse mix of organisations that were there, a common issue emerged – that the rate and pace of change in organisations is only set to increase.  Not particularly ground breaking or even new news to many. But what did become clear from a few of the sessions is the shift in how organisations are starting to encourage, recognise and develop leaders. 

One striking case study outlined how long-standing leadership capabilities were ‘suddenly’ rewritten to place much greater emphasis on skills and attributes that drive and support change.  Another company spoke of renewed interest in the positive culture leaders help shape through creative thinking and innovation – with recognition systems heavily weighted towards these skills.

We have noticed that as a result of these changes, over-time, the focus and outcomes for some of our leadership and graduate programmes have subtly shifted.  For example one of our clients identified a genuine business and strategic need for ‘key talent’ to instil a dynamic and versatile mind set and more overtly drive culture change. They recognised that without this, the organisation would lose out to aggressive competition in the near future.  So we are currently reworking our development programme to not only deliver against this need, but support our L&D client in evaluating its success.   

Watch this space for the results!