What makes a good leader and how can you tell if you are one? How do you know that the people running your organisation are equipped with the skills and ethics they need to manage successfully? What is the effect of bad leadership on a business and its people?
These were issues put under a blindingly bright spotlight at the recent Royal Commission into the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.
Day after day some of the most highly-paid managers in Australia were grilled on their performance as custodians of some of the country's biggest financial institutions.
They were the leaders of businesses employing many thousands of people and entrusted with the valued savings and investments of millions of customers.
And every day they were revealed to be wanting in some of the basic attributes you would expect from the leaders of such businesses.
It starkly revealed a very high profile failure of leadership on many different fronts, and it prompted questions about how such toxic cultures could develop and continue for so long inside these businesses.
In the end the image of many of the companies was battered and bruised, as well as the image of the financial industry in general.
In testimony before the Royal Commission, the Commonwealth Bank CEO Matt Comyn slated the blame for poor behaviours and unethical practices within the bank directly to the quality of leadership.
Asked what the single most important thing that he could do to change the culture at CBA was he responded, 'It's the leaders inside the business'.
David Pich, leadership expert and CEO of Australia's oldest and most respected leadership organisation, the Institute of Managers and Leaders (IML), said the Royal Commission revealed not just a failure of leaders at the top.
"What we saw was a endemic failure of leadership and management at every level," said Mr Pich.
"Poor behaviours and toxic cultures have been allowed to develop and continue. Every tale of woe that emerged from the banking Royal Commission is a fundamental failure of leadership."
Mr Pich said this same failure of leadership has also been seen in other sectors, from the Catholic Church to the highest echelons of Australian cricket, to the national broadcaster, the ABC.
As an antidote to bad leaders and the devastating effect they can have on businesses, people and the wider community, Mr Pich has become the champion of the idea of a professional accreditation system for managers that holds them accountable to professional standards and a code of ethics in the same way that professions like accountants, lawyers and doctors have for many years.
It's an idea that is gaining increasing support in Australia. Already more than 1000 Australian managers have applied to become a Chartered Manager, a globally recognised professional designation recently introduced locally by the IML as part of a long term agreement with the highly-respected Chartered Management Institute in the UK.
Mr Pich said that too often people fall into management roles by accident without having the essential skills to effectively lead and manage their team.
"This is the chaos of the accidental manager and it is not just isolated to the financial services," he said. "Accidental managers can be found at all leadership levels and are present in so many workplaces.
"In so many professions - be it engineering or accounting or law - professional designations are required to certify that someone has the essential knowledge and demonstrable skills to carry our their role effectively and with the utmost integrity.
"So why do we give employees positions of leadership without first ensuring that they have the necessary skills and ethical framework needed for effective management and leadership? Why allow thousands of their people to be led by managers who aren't professionally skilled to manage and lead?"
"We all know the feeling of being managed by a committed and approachable leader as opposed to a poor manager creating a toxic culture. It's the managers and leaders in an organisation that set the standard and create the culture."
To find out more about becoming a Chartered Manager head to the Institute of Managers and Leaders website or phone 1300 661 061.
This is sponsored content for the Institute of Managers and Leaders.
The story Building Australia's new wave of professional managers and leaders first appeared on Newcastle Herald.