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Ian Dodds Consulting’s (IDC) Monthly Best Practice: May 2015

By Ian Dodds – The Inclusion Builder

Transformational leadership and management and the role of Employee Networks

I believe we are moving from two decades of an emphasis on Transactional Leadership dedicated to short termism and performance management to an era where the emphasis will be on Transformational Leadership. For example, Tomorrow’s Company is now active in encouraging firms to place the emphasis on long-term shared stakeholder value and not short-termism. It is evidenced, also, by a resurgence in interest in employee engagement which requires a vision of future success and long-term strategic action to engage and empower the workforce to deliver it. Of course, alignment through performance management will still be a necessary adjunct.

Employee Network Groups (ENGs) provide an effective engagement route and their role, in consequence, is expanding. Initially they were formed to offer a voice for a particular identity group, e.g. women, ethnic minorities, LGBTs, disabled staff. They were seen by their employers, amongst other things, as vehicles for increasing the representation of non-traditional groups in management. However, they now encompass not only ENGs around identity; but also affiliation interests, e.g. safety, product development, fixing global implementation issues. Contemporary technology makes the ready formation of both identity and affiliation ENGs feasible through the medium of virtual networking.

ENGs face challenges: maintaining the energy as they grow beyond the core founder group; technological advances which enable the globalisation of ENGs; engaging themselves effectively in delivering business success; negotiating budgets and demonstrating value against these.

Good practices which help to overcome the challenges are:

  1. Having a senior sponsor offering empowering oversight.

  2. Being linked to a Council which oversees Diversity and Inclusion (D&I).

  3. The ENG formulating its own vision of success.

  4. ENGs having short, i.e. quick wins, and long term strategic goals.

  5. Membership being inclusive by being open to all.

  6. Linking with other ENGs to develop best practices and see where there are cross-over opportunities.

  7. Training the ENG leaders in: finding experts; engaging volunteers in activities; growing membership; working with other ENGs and external bodies, etc.

The following shifts are apparent:

  1. The growth of affiliate ENGs delivering creative solutions to problems which bridge functional gaps, e.g. addressing broken business processes.

  2. Identity ENGs being formed not just from the seven diversity strands; but also from groups such as parents and carers.

  3. The increasing focus with helping with real business problems.

  4. The globalisation of ENGs.

  5. Identity groups being open to all and encouraging the involvement of ‘allies’, e.g. LGBT ENGs have been at the forefront by inviting attendance from straight friends.

  6. The increasing connection with external networks.

  7. The use of virtual networking platforms, e.g. Second Life.

IDC has considerable experience of ENG creation, operation and management so that we can help clients ensure that their ENGs are a success.

Dr Ian Dodds,




29 Apr 2015

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