When swinging the lead is too heavy to bother

To swing the lead, according to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, is ‘to avoid work by pretending to be ill‘. Having witnessed colleagues’ behaviour for over 30 years, I believe the lead often swings because people cannot be bothered travelling, or need an extra hour sleeping, or have important responsibilities at home, or need an hour or two for themselves — anything draconian employers deny.

And organisations employing manipulative leaders (‘do as I say, not as I do’) who enjoy their own unofficial flexibility, while forbidding the same behaviour from their teams, deserve the lead swinging in their direction. There is never an excuse for double-standards, and it begins the vicious cycle to morale, financial or commercial collapse.

The alternative is Adaptive Leadership, which begins a virtuous circle to increased morale, financial advantage and commercial success. I am a passionate advocate for flexible working, where possible, and consider it among the most effective measures organisations can adopt to increase efficiency.

During COVID-19, when social-distancing guidance and stay-at-home orders urge remote working, I wonder if the lead remains still. Legalities prevent organisations from prying into how much lead is swung, so there are unlikely to be meaningful surveys or reports on the matter. But it is not difficult to imagine how many unsick days an organisation gains from permitting its employees to work from home.