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How to foster effective leadership

By Jack Campbell | |6 minute read

Leadership is critical to business success. National University said that “effective leadership in business can bolster and promote teamwork, cultivate a sense of greater good, motivate, inspire trust, or provide purpose and direction”.

The HR Leader was joined by Nadine O’Regan, general manager at TQSolutions. She outlined how a business can foster effective leadership and the effect this can have.

“It’s really unfortunate that more companies are not equipping, or empowering, or even incentivising their leaders to do that and role model that behaviour,” Ms O’Regan said.


“Companies need to define what leadership actually means to their organisation, and that’s going to be different definitions for different companies.” 

“We need to focus our efforts on being more human at work, being more vulnerable, focusing on wellbeing, and leading by example with your people.”

Understanding the responsibilities of leaders is important. This may be different from what was expected pre-pandemic, as COVID-19 has shifted the dynamics of leadership.

“We’ve moved to a very different leadership environment in the last couple of years, thanks to COVID-19. So, I think we need to move away from face-to-face training,” Ms O’Regan said.

Recognising potential leaders and providing them with the appropriate training and experience is important, Ms O’Regan said, as capable leaders are key to success.

“All companies should have a clear idea of who their future leaders are [and] how they’re enabling those leaders. And there should be a clear and visible skills taxonomy in place. And companies need to have a clear picture of the leader preferences to go with that,” she explained.

“A lot of companies just don’t know what skills they’ve got in their workforce. Even fewer understand worker preferences for utilising those skills in their future career.”

By promoting those who are proficient, the business will reap the rewards. A poor leader can steer the company to make poor decisions. Picking those who are effective will have the ability to positively control the direction of the company.

Ms O’Regan noted: “One of the big blockers when it comes to building talent pipelines and building mobility is manager capability. We deal with hiring managers all day, every day, and they have a hard enough time committing time to interviewing candidates, let alone time on employee development and retention, and all of those things on top of their day-to-day.”

“So, the more progressive organisations, they’ve got a few things that most companies don’t, when it comes to mobility. And I would say that those things are, they have a good understanding of their talent ecosystem and the skills within it. They’ve got managers that are skilled in developing the employees that they already have. They have succession plans in place. And those succession plans are focused on all employees.”

While picking those with the ability to lead is important, honing those skills is just as important, Ms O’Regan said. Without training and development, leadership will lack.

“You need to focus on upskilling managers. If all of your efforts are firmly in the realms of traditional planned hierarchical mobility, then you really need to educate your managers and build their capability,” she said.

While a leader is a critical component of the business, caution should be carried out so as not to overwhelm them. Workloads need to be reasonable; otherwise, the results will be negatively impacted.

“We’re working with a company at the moment, and they’ve decided, as a business, that the role of thought of their leaders is that of a coach or a mentor. This is a fundamental shift for their business and their culture. So, they’re doubling down on this as a strategy, and they’re giving their leaders the tools and IP to be able to do that,” Ms O’Regan said.

“I can speak for myself; leaders are overwhelmed.”

The transcript of this podcast episode, when quoted above, was slightly edited for publishing purposes. The full audio conversation with Nadine O’Regan on 12 December is below, and the original podcast article can be found here. 



Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.