Author Profile Picture

Jamie Lawrence


Insights Director

Read more about Jamie Lawrence

News: UK employees demotivated by rise of ‘crisis’ leadership


Overstretched UK leaders are creating demotivating working environments by failing to adapt their leadership styles to the situation at hand.

A rise in the use of ‘just do it’ approaches, useful in a crisis but incompatible with long-term engagement and motivation, is responsible, according to new research from global management consultancy Hay Group.

The study revealed that just over a third (38 percent) of UK leaders have mastered none or only one leadership style, while a quarter of (24 percent) are able to adopt a range of four or more styles.

The ‘just do it’ management style, labelled by the study as once rarely used, has been frequently adopted by over a quarter (26 percent) of leaders responding to the survey. This is equal to a rise of 10 percent since 2005, and a jump of five percent between 2008 and 2009.

There are some positive stats from the research – the number of leaders able to use four or more leadership styles has risen by six percent since 2005, while the proportion of leaders creating demotivating environments has fallen by 12 percent.

The ‘just do it’ technique is key in a crisis when decisions need to be made confidently and quickly, but in less trying times employees expect daily processes to be more mutual and empowering. Managers who cannot adapt to meet the changing needs of individuals, teams and the external environment may find staff members becoming jaded to a culture that doesn’t do what they need it to do. In these cases, leadership training can help.

Melody Moore, consultant at Hay Group, commented: “A leader’s behaviour is the single biggest factor influencing the team working environment.

“Good leadership has the power to energise, engage and motivate staff to go the extra mile for their organisation. Poor leadership will have the opposite effect, creating a demotivating environment and leading in time to poor team performance including high staff turnover and frequent absences.

“With the country facing ongoing economic uncertainty, it is crucial that UK leaders master the full arsenal of styles in order to get the best from their people and drive all important growth.”

One Response

  1. We need great leaders for these challenging times

     I am not the least surprised to know that this is what the research is telling us and wholeheartedly agree that what is required in these challenging times is, almost more than anything else, great leaders.  I fear that when the chips are down the style that becomes predominant is frequently management rather than leadership.  The definition that I use and am most comfortable with is “Outstanding managers drive people to perform at the highest level they are capable of and it is very much about control.  Outstanding leaders inspire them to do it for themselves and it is more about freedom”.  People at the top are highly likely to start driving people to do what they think is the best way to get more sales/increase margins/ improve customer service etc. etc.  Freedom to create and come up with new and fresh thinking gets stifled, true individual responsibility is suppressed, the stress levels rise and motivation drops further and further down.

    The most outstanding leaders that I know and work with have the courage to truly develop great leaders at every level of the organisation – and prove its value by getting the results straight through to the bottom line.

    Penny Ferguson is the founder of The Living Leader and the UK’s leading expert on Personal Leadership

Author Profile Picture
Jamie Lawrence

Insights Director

Read more from Jamie Lawrence

Get the latest from HRZone.

Subscribe to expert insights on how to create a better workplace for both your business and its people.


Thank you.