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Leaders, Leaders, Wherefore Art Thou Leaders?

As we sit in the throes of one of the longest-ever Australian federal election campaigns with both major and minor parties trading insults and engaging in scare-mongering, the question that is begging to be asked is; “Where’s the leadership in all the froth and bubble?”

Each year, the Leadership Employment and Direction (L.E.A.D.) Survey highlights the importance of leadership development at all levels in our organisations and indicates where some of the more damaging misconceptions between leaders, managers and employees may stem from. While some political leaders may be demonstrating more of a ‘do what it takes’ approach to securing the leadership, the L.E.A.D. Survey results illuminate a few things about what we believe are ‘required or expected’ from leaders with whom we have regular contact in our own organisations.

As the presence of strong leadership comes up for debate again in Australian politics, the L.E.A.D. results clearly indicate that defined leadership in our own organisations is an overwhelming contributing factor to our overall success, both perceived and actual.

Strategic importance of leadership development

More than two-thirds of employees at all levels of organisations believe leadership development is either the most important or one of the top few strategic challenges facing their organisations:

Which of the following best describes how strategically important leadership development is for your organisation’s future?

Leaders

(Executives/ Senior Managers)

Managers

(Middle Managers and Supervisors)

Employees

(Non-Managerial/ Supervisory Employees)

The most important strategic challenge for my organisation141116
One of the top few strategic challenges for my organisation645758
Just below the top few strategic challenges for my organisation162015
Not an important strategic challenge for my organisation384
Unable to rate257

 

Satisfaction with current leadership development processes

Between 23% and 41% are dissatisfied with the current leadership development processes being used in their organisations – a sad situation given these very processes are where leaders of the future learn necessary skills and build their capabilities in leadership:

How satisfied are you with the leadership development processes currently used in your organisation?

Leaders

(Executives/ Senior Managers)

Managers

(Middle Managers and Supervisors)

Employees

(Non-Managerial/ Supervisory Employees)

Very satisfied9712
Quite satisfied584858
Quite dissatisfied223418
Very dissatisfied775
Unable to rate448

 

Leadership competencies

The recipe for effective leadership is reasonably simple to follow. People working at all levels of organisations have a succinct and focused set of expectations that leaders can fulfil – if they put their minds to it. The main area of leadership competency expected of our leaders is communication, developing and coaching others and problem solving and decision-making.

Disappointingly, our leaders (both political and other) seem to limit the effectiveness of their communication and in doing so, they let down the people they seek to lead:

Looking at this list of leadership competencies, please nominate which you believe are the five most critical competencies that leaders and senior managers need to do their job well today.

Leadership competencies

Employees

2016

Managers

2016

Leaders

2016

Communication skills11=1
Developing and coaching others22=1
Problem solving and decision-making335
Planning and organising4=58
Building relationships (external and internal)=574
Teamwork=5=59
Strategic thinking743

 

So how about it leaders?

How about working to fulfil the expectations people have about your leadership and ensuring it impacts on them positively? Thinking about and acting in accordance with the competencies expected of you will grow your leadership skills and develop quality leaders for the future.

Given the critical importance of leadership development, you owe it to the next generation of leaders to do it well, be the example they should follow and help them to learn how to do it better in future – not just do what it takes to retain the formal leader role or title.