Walk and talk: your management must-dos

09 May 2017 -


Walking the line. In management, it’s more than a cliché; it’s a necessity, says CMI’s CEO

Ann Francke

Leaders who are visible and accessible inspire far more trust than those who aren’t. Leaders who talk the line – who actively listen to and engage with their middle managers – create far better cultures than those who don’t.

And yet a recent report by the 30% Club found only 25% of managers’ time was spent interacting with their direct reports, giving them coaching and guidance. At senior levels that dropped to 5%.

This all helps to create what we call ‘the missing middle’ – the absence of females rising into leadership.

Lack of good line management also erodes trust. Only 36% of the line managers we surveyed trusted their leaders to do the right thing.

So, in the latest issue of Professional Manager, we spoke with two CEOs who really walk and talk the line.

Dame Carolyn McCall is so visible she doesn’t have an office. Instead, her time is spent at various easyJet centres, interacting with staff  and customers. She also has regular one-to-ones with her top 50 managers.

McCall, a CMI Gold Medal winner, has transformed easyJet’s reputation with both City and customer.

Sacha Romanovitch, CEO of Grant Thornton, believes, similarly, that all managers, especially those in the middle, need to be nurtured. We talked with her about the techniques Grant Thornton is using to harness the customer-proximity of middle managers to improve culture, morale and, ultimately, results.

We also examined the lack of social mobility among UK youth. Expanding aspiration in all strands of society, backed by real career opportunity, is key if post-Brexit Britain is to thrive. The government hopes its agenda of three million apprentices and a £500m investment in skills will help drive this.

Together with 50 employers, we’ve pioneered the employer-led management and leadership apprenticeships, including the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA), which, according to a recent report, will be one of the top three degree apprenticeships on offer.

Early signs are the CMDA will also encourage greater social mobility. We must all remind ourselves to walk the talk often.

So I’m proud CMI has been recognised for just that: we made the Sunday Times ‘100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For’, with our highest score being for the quality of our line management.

And we also took Gold at the Apprenticeship Awards 2017, as best not-for-profit support organisation. I’m very proud of all CMI staff  for this; only by walking the talk can we best deliver value to members and partners.

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