Articles 2 min read

Disrupted Leadership? by Kelly Swingler

What if we’ve got it all wrong?  What if in fact it’s not HR that needs to be disrupted, but leadership?

Over the last 18 years I have been asked to design and implement a number of HR initiatives and solutions, some of which have been approved quickly, some of which have taken a lot of time to agree or approve.  The time taken hasn’t been to do with the solution, but because on a number of occasions the Board haven’t had the time to agree on the initiative at their meeting, because, as many HR professionals will know, the People proposals don’t take priority over other business matters and don’t always get tabled at the scheduled meeting.


There is a lot of talk lately about removing the annual performance review, and looking differently at the way we manage talent in the business, but none of this will be successful if the leaders don’t get on board with these.  And I know from first-hand experience that removing appraisals won’t work unless the culture of the organisation is right.

What if, instead of continuing to lay all the blame at the feet of HR when employees aren’t engaged, or motivated, and instead of drowning employees in policies and procedures, we focus on the leaders of the business?


What if, managers managed effectively, and had conversations with their people?

What if leaders led effectively, made decisions in a timely manner and considered the impact of their decisions on the workforce?

What if the biggest priority of managers and leaders was the wellbeing of staff?  What if the managers and leaders trusted their staff, led and engaged and motivated them daily?

What if, instead of drowning people in data, leaders showed more of their authentic self, and told stories that inspired instead of death by PowerPoint presentations?


What if, after looking at the data and having conversations with employees about what the business needs, HR could introduce a proposal or solution that the leaders would approve quickly with no changes, trusting that the employees and the data tell the full story of what is required?

What if, instead of looking for HR to prove that the solution has been implemented successfully in another business, they trust that HR know what they are doing based on their knowledge and experience and because the employees have asked for it?


We were recently appointed to work with an organisation and provide a simplified solution of one of their frameworks.  It was widely accepted by employee forums, employee representative groups and managers, and then when it got to the Board, it was amended to be less simple and more complicated.   Now the leaders have got to where they are because of their ability, knowledge and skills, but in this instance they dismissed the views of hundreds of employees and made a decision between the five of them to make something simple more complex.  The exact opposite of what they had first asked for.

So before we all jump on the let’s disrupt bandwagon, we need to look at the leaders and see what they need to change first.  Because let’s face it, no solution regardless of how simple or different, or engaging will be approved without getting them on board first.

The Business Transformation Network has posted this article in partnership with Chrysalis Consulting.

Hear it first

Stay up to date with our latest content and events

Watch, read or listen to content from the brightest leaders across the world of People, Process & Technology.

Find out about the latest events across Europe

Network with like-minded professionals in your industry

Find and apply for the best jobs

See content that you like?

Share your experience by joining your exclusive roundtables, or contribute to our content like industry peers.

Get involved