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A six-shooter for better business The 6 Box Leadership Model is an evidence-based approach to transforming performance, writes Professor Vlatka Hlupic

Many readers of Dialogue will be familiar with the depressing statistics on employee engagement and productivity. There is an illogical dynamic: the link between superior people management and better business performance is clearer than ever, yet this newfound clarity has failed to trigger any significant progress. In the UK, for example, a 2012 report by the Chartered Management Institute found that some 80% of managers in high-performing organizations report that their own line manager is effective or highly effective. This compares with just 39% in poor-performing workplaces (see graphic, right).

The quality of management has failed to improve in the past ten years The overall figure is worrying. The proportion of those rating their managers as ineffective was more than 40%. Would we tolerate such failure in any other profession? Recently, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development reported that the quality of management had failed to improve in the past ten years. Approaches to maximize productivity, innovation and employee autonomy were “still not the norm”, it said. My own research reaches similar conclusions. Drawing on the evidence, I have sought to create a practical programme for improvement, now tested and proven in more than 20 workplaces, and currently being rolled out to others. It is described in the book The Management Shift.

what the 6 box model did for us

City slicker At a City of London insurance company, the 6 Box Leadership analysis revealed a strong culture and work ethic, but also a tendency towards shorttermism and risk of employee burnout. Implementing the programme helped improve training programmes, boosting engagement and performance. Heads up A US management consultancy transformed its performance using the Management Shift, doubling its headcount and increasing revenue fivefold in just 18 months. Hot 100 At a FTSE100 company, use of the 6 Box Leadership Model revealed ways to improve engagement and innovation. Two years later, there was a 33% increase in revenue and an increase in net profit of 213%. Healthy organization One National Health Service trust in the UK used the approach to reduce ‘command and control’ style leadership with a more participative style. This led to a considerably more people-focused culture, with the clinical director reporting a better organizational climate and treatment for patients as a result. More comprehensive case studies are found in Chapter 6 of The Management Shift book

The central finding of my research is that a significant improvement in performance cannot come about through piecemeal approaches; and that the mindset of managers is every bit as important as the strategy and tactics. The most substantial improvements start with the leaders themselves: their beliefs, conduct, ways of handling people and understanding of strategy. Leaders spearhead the change, but a step change in performance eventually encompasses everyone in the organization. A key part of the altered mindset is to perceive the organization as a dynamic entity, not an inert set of assets. You also need good intelligence. Leaders need to understand their own weaknesses and strengths, and be in possession of information on how all the business units are operating. Hence the Management Shift is divided into two categories: individual and organizational. For the Individual Shift, people learn about their impact on their teams. Research supports the concept of levels of engagement and performance, from Level 1, which is apathetic, through to Level 5, passionate and unbounded (Figure 1). This Emergent Leadership model draws on social neuroscience and complexity theory, as well as empirical research on employee engagement and organizational behaviour. Each level is characterized by distinct mindsets and behaviour (see Figure 1). With coaching and facilitated discussion, people can improve. A significant change occurs moving from Level 3 to Level 4; this is the key moment: the point at which high-performance begins. — Vlatka Hlupic is professor of business and management at Westminster Business School. For more, visit

Dialogue Q1 2016

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Dialogue Q1 2016  
Dialogue Q1 2016  

The new world of work