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Thought leadership

 The public sector has been urged to overhaul its leadership style after a study found that fewer than one in five of its workers are consulted about important decisions in their organisation.

More than half of public sector staff do not trust their bosses, said the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. It said its findings helped to explain low levels of employee engagement. Its survey of more than 2,000 employees showed that those in private companies were more likely to trust their leaders and be consulted.

The CIPD said there was a “worrying” deterioration in employees' satisfaction with their ability to put forward their views, an issue which it believed was highlighted by the report into the Mid-Staffordshire NHS.

Ben Willmott, of the CIPD, said: “Strong employee voice supports effective corporate governance and risk management by allowing staff to air concerns over problems, for example, with customer service, patient care, product quality or inappropriate behaviour.

“In some organisations, as in Mid-Staffs, lives could be at stake unless employee voice improves, but in countless others the consequences could range from poor performance right up to failures to stop criminal activity and fatal damage to the organisation's brand and reputation.”

He called for a shift away from the traditional command-and-control style of leadership, towards one that trusted employees on the front line to innovate and act with autonomy.

“It’s important to create an open culture where senior managers consult staff about key decisions and employees trust their managers enough to be able to express their views whether asked for them or not,” Mr Willmott said.

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