By Peter Russian, Chief executive, Re:markable (formerly Investors in People Scotland)

SPEND five minutes at an airport or railway station bookstore and it won’t be long before you notice the plethora of books begging to offer advice on running a great business, achieving your personal goals and becoming a great leader. Alongside them are the “motivational” stories of selfless heroes who single-handedly transformed a business, a city or a team.

That there are 294,000 books about leadership available on Amazon suggests there is a huge demand for the latest insight and in many ways we should be grateful for that. After all, the quality of leadership has a profound impact on how organisations perform and it affects everyone in a job. Leadership isn’t just important for the bottom line, it plays a critical role in our well-being.

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Stressed-out employees who feel disconnected from their employer aren’t just bad for the business and customers, it’s bad for the nation’s health.

Last year we worked with more than 500 organisations in Scotland helping them to look at how they can achieve the best results through their people, and the issue that comes up time and again is leadership. So given all the advice, and the eye-watering estimated £25 billion global spend on leadership development, why do we produce a relatively small number of really outstanding organisations?

Furthermore, given that when things go badly wrong it usually comes back to a question of leadership, why are we not getting better at it?

Part of the problem lies in the fact that in the last 20 years we have been told to manage the hell out of organisations, with top-down targets here, key performance indicators (KPIs) there and wherever possible the introduction of processes to replace the reliance on judgement and common sense. It means that we value doing things right more than doing the right thing.

Technology has also had a profound impact on the relationship between business and customers who are now better informed, have more choice and a louder voice. However, our thinking about leadership quite simply hasn’t caught up.

The idea that there are leaders and there are followers and that leadership is about a small number of talented people directing others is increasingly flawed.

It’s a belief that is rooted in the era of mass production when getting people to complete repetitive tasks to a consistent quality was king. We live in a very different world and you simply can’t order people to be creative or flexible. It’s an era where the customer has to be heard, and so do the people in your team who are closest to them.

There’s a very boring debate about whether leaders are born or made. I also hear people make outrageous assumptions that “some people just want to turn up to do a job”. We need to get over the idea of putting leaders on pedestals, not the least because when we do that, we reinforce the idea that leaders have a huge level of responsibility on their plates and therefore merit being paid more than 100 times the salary of their lowest paid employees.

We need leaders at all levels in business and in the public sector. People who are trusted to use their judgement to make the right decisions for customers. People whose opinions and experience are valued. People who have the potential and talent to step forward and lead but who may currently think “what’s the point?” If we don’t, we will find ourselves facing the challenge posed byBrexit with one hand tied behind our backs.