Category Archives: L.E.A.D.

Why aren't you setting goals? | LMA

Lead by purpose, not position or power

Satisfaction with the standard of leadership in organisations is declining and may be affecting productivity growth. Reasons for the declines, and how to develop a leadership style that can reverse them, were outlined at a recent seminar conducted by Leadership Management Australia (LMA).

A significant reason for the adverse trends may be that more is expected from leaders than ever before.

The seminar quoted the following statistics:

  • The level of “bureaucracy” issues in organisations, and their complexity generally, have increased considerably – some estimates say by seven times over the past 50 years.
  • Communication overload – some estimates say a tenfold increase over 50 years. It is now estimated a manager spends about one day per week managing communications and two days per week in meetings, etc – leaving only about two days to actually do his/her job.
  • The number of KPIs used to measure managers’ performance has also expanded considerably.

In this context, a halving of the rate of productivity increases over the past decade is easier to understand.

Gap between leaders’ and employees’ view of leaders’ performance

LMA regularly conducts a survey of management practices called the Leadership Employment and Direction (L.E.A.D) Survey. Like other similar surveys, it has found leaders tend to rate their own performance more highly than their employees rate it.

Statistics from the latest LEAD survey include:

  • Overall, the ratio of people satisfied with leaders’ performance to those dissatisfied is about 2:1, but employees gave lower ratings than managers and leaders themselves.
  • While about 50 per cent of leaders said they entrusted employees with responsibility and provided them with interesting and challenging work – two of the most influential factors on improving performance – less than 10 per cent of their employees agreed with them.
  • While about 80 per cent of leaders claimed they gave employees sincere praise, only 14 per cent of employees agreed.
  • There was a similar gap between the perceived importance of good leadership to organisation performance, and their performance at developing good leaders.

When asked to nominate reasons why leadership failed, more than two-thirds nominated poor interpersonal skills (ie the ability to interact with and influence others) as a major reason, versus 45 per cent for personal skills and only 15 per cent for technical/business/knowledge skills.

The increased complexity of leadership roles as discussed above, plus constant pressures to “get it done now” by relying on established procedures and compliance requirements, appears to be a major contributing factor.

Gaps in learning and development

Randy Slechta, CEO of Leadership Management International, said that while the benefits of investment in training, learning and development are not questioned, there is evidence the investment is often misdirected.

One disturbing statistic is that the level of senior management satisfaction with leadership development in their organisations has fallen steadily from 53 per cent in 2003 to only 19 per cent in 2014 – although one of the reasons appears to be that the issue now receives greater scrutiny than it used to.

The survey also found that most (85%) funding goes to the learning experience itself – delivery of training and development – with only 10 per cent going to pre-work and goal setting, and a mere 5 per cent to follow-up, feedback and on-the-job application. Slechta recommended allocating 50 per cent to follow-up, feedback and application, and about 25 per cent each to the other two.

Only about 30 per cent of what is learned from training and development is actually used on the job.

Stages of learning and development

Slechta said that leaders will be at one of the following four stages of performance, and training and development should aim to take them to the fourth stage:

  1. Unconscious incompetence – the starting point, which requires assessment and education.
  2. Conscious incompetence – they know or learn what is required but are not yet able to do it well. Training and opportunities to practise learning are required, but Slechta said many organisations do not progress beyond this stage. He added it is also the stage that MBAs will take students to and no further.
  3. Conscious competence – they can do the job by following procedures, etc. To progress from here, they need constructive feedback and opportunities to apply learning on the job. Evaluation of training and development makes a difference here – most organisations measure knowledge acquired and reactions to training/development, but too few also measure actual behaviour changes and impact on results/return on investment.
  4. Unconscious competence – mastery of the job. The missing link here is the importance of being able to influence other people that is fundamental to leadership. It involves influencing their values and emotions and being able to energise them, and this is where the overlooked and underrated interpersonal skills become critical. Training and development focuses too much on the “outside” factors such as knowledge and technical skills.

Slechta suggested this is why Australian engagement surveys typically report that only about 25 per cent of employees are actively engaged at work and the majority (about 60 per cent) are only passively engaged.

Leadership by purpose the desired model

About 97 per cent of leadership models in organisations are “transactional”, based on position and/or power. The big challenge for learning and development is to move them to the model of “leadership by purpose”, currently practised by only about 3 per cent.

Leadership by position is based on command and control principles, using fear and consequences to enforce conformity.

Leadership by power is the most common model. It relies heavily on monetary rewards, incentives and sanctions. This has several drawbacks:

  • Motivation is contingent on receiving a reward, so not intrinsic
  • There is competition for rewards instead of collaboration
  • Rewards only reinforce current traditional behaviour (described as “wheelspin”)
  • It fosters a culture of compliance
  • As rewards increase, employees tend to lose interest and become more extrinsically motivated
  • As interest wanes, various forms of aberrant behaviour may emerge, such as resistance to new ideas, fear, defiance, withdrawal, rorting the system and disrespect.

Leadership by purpose requires work to have meaning to employees, who are intrinsically motivated.

Various studies have found that intrinsic motivation results in major gains in engagement, innovation and work performance generally for both leaders and their employees. Features of the workplace include high self-motivation, trust, responsibility and accountability.

However, it can take a lot of time and effort to build relationships. Leaders under time, cost and results pressures find it easier to default to one of the other two styles – again, the “get it done now” edict. Therefore, a supportive organisation culture that encourages and supports people to take ownership of what they do is crucial to reaching the “leadership by purpose” (or transformational leadership) model.

Originally published on

Broken Leadership – The Breakfast Series

Over the last two weeks, Leadership Management Australia (LMA) has proudly hosted the Broken Leadership breakfast series in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide, addressing global leadership issues and trends and those specific to Australia, supported by data from LMA’s Leadership Employment and Direction (L.E.A.D) Survey.

The key presenter, Randy Slechta – CEO of Leadership Management International (LMI) has vast experience with leadership throughout the world and is considered one of the foremost experts in leadership. His insightful and, at times, confronting presentation focused on key elements of broken leadership.


Challenges of Leadership

Whether you have been in a leadership role for a while or you are just stepping into one, you are inevitably going to encounter a series of challenges along the way. From budget related issues through to the enormity of organisational shifts, your leadership role will be clear at times, and at other times it will be a seemingly uphill battle.

The challenges leadership presents are many and varied. However, many of the highs and lows have to do directly with people. When your team is solid and behind you, the tough times will not seem as exhausting and the successes are sweeter as they are achieved together. Conversely, a team that is fractured, divided or unhappy will be in constant shortfall in terms of performance, communication and support. If your team is more like the later, there inevitably will be a variety of organisational and personal issues to blame for the current mood.

The Total Person Concept®

When you are leading people something key to remember is that you are not only leading the business portion of the person – you are leading the entire person with all their individual quirks and personality traits. Each person in your organisation is a complex, unique individual with many roles to fill in life. Understanding this, it is easier to comprehend how certain issues that have arisen in the organisation may have something to do with both the career portion of the person and the personal portion of the person.

Separating Organisational and Personal Problems

Much of the challenge of this portion of your role will have to do with being able to ascertain what are the organisational issues and personal issues, and how to handle them both with equal care. Approaching this part of your job with a willingness to listen, understand and offer assistance yields more positive results than demonstrating a primary intention to punish and enforce rules to return the team to a position of strength and productivity.

You must be prepared to treat causes rather than symptoms or risk the problem reoccurring later down the track. Use some basic techniques to come to the source of the problem and ensure that you move forward handling it correctly:

Set aside a time to speak directly to the team member alone. Allow to team member to speak without interruption, even if you disagree with some of what is being expressed by them. Many complaints and grievances to do with organisational and one-on-one issues will resolve themselves when people are given the opportunity to discuss them.

  • Ask questions

Ask carefully phrased questions to ensure you are able to learn the real cause of the problem. Ask questions like these:

  • When did this problem begin?
  • Who else is affected?
  • What do you think the cause is?
  • How would you like to solve the problem?
  • What resources are available?

Through asking good questions, you communicate that you are not unfairly pre-judging people or situations, both organisational and personal.

  • Do not argue

Present any information that you can give to the team member in a calm manner, not an argumentative one. By first asking questions you have potentially disarmed the argument or tension brewing in the background. If the issue is an organisational one, your point of view will be more persuasive when you demonstrate that you can see their point of view.

Any personal issues that have been brought in to the work space can be discussed more openly now without falsely attributing them to something to do with the inner workings of the company.

  • Make sure you understand

Repeat back to the team member what you now understand the issue to be. Make certain that the team member goes away with a firm belief that you have heard their complaint or request for assistance, and that you are going to do something about it to assist.

  • Gather additional information

If the issue is an organisational one, investigate what the team member has said, check the validity of the claims and refer to the employees statements throughout the background check. Consult with higher management before making a final decision.

For a more personal issue, from depression through to internal team member arguments, determine if there is an organisational policy for assisting the team member through it. Endeavour to develop a plan with the team member to overcome the problem.

  • Explain your decision

If your decision is distasteful to the team member, take the time to explain it clearly to them and answer any questions. Team members may not always agree with your decision, but you will maintain a stronger working relationship if you stand by your decision and remain tough but fair.

  • Thank the team member

Express your genuine appreciation for the person’s willingness to communicate openly about their issues. Your thanks will encourage more open communication in the future and will create an atmosphere where everyone feels able to express their issues when necessary for the betterment of the organisation.

Interested in tackling the challenges of leadership head on? Find out more about the Challenge of Leadership program from LMA and improve your leadership, management and empowerment skills.

External Training Methods Delivering Greatest Benefit

Despite the unscrupulous conduct of a number of Registered Training Organisations and the resulting investigations and actions to address such conduct, it is refreshing to note that the benefits/effectiveness of professional and outcome driven externally supplied training continue to be recognised by the most important people in the training and development industry – the clients.

It is interesting to note that between two-thirds and three-quarters of leaders, managers and employees in the latest wave of the Leadership Employment and Direction (L.E.A.D) Survey believe that training delivered by external providers delivers the greatest benefit to their organisation. Leaders and employees are fairly evenly divided in their view that training conducted by external suppliers undertaken internally or externally provides greatest benefit, well ahead of internal training conducted by internal staff.

Managers, on the other hand are much more in favour of external providers conducting training at the workplace, presumably as it does not require those being trained to travel to attend.

Training method that delivers greatest benefit Leaders
Training undertaken internally, conducted by company staff 18 19 16
Training undertaken internally, conducted by external suppliers/trainers 34 41 35
Training undertaken externally, conducted by external suppliers/trainers 35 32 39
Not sure 14 8 10

We can only surmise that the experiences of leaders, managers and employees have provided most with the perspective to conclude externally provided training delivers greater benefits.

This is a salutary reminder that, in the main, RTOs and private training providers seek to deliver benefit and do so to enhance the skills and knowledge of participants, their managers and leaders and organisations overall.

L.E.A.D. Survey Whitepaper

Being Brave in a Brave New Organisational World – L.E.A.D. Whitepaper

New information to help leaders and managers understand,  communicate with, evolve and develop their people to deliver a motivated workforce and a successful future.

The Whitepaper delves into the most profound issues to emerge from this wave of the L.E.A.D. Survey and provides insights for leaders and managers to be brave in a new organisational world.

Download the L.E.A.D. Whitepaper to view the issues, needs and expectations of over 4,000 employees, managers and business leaders.

Use the form above to download this handy resource, feel free to share it on social media.

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Did you achieve all you planned to in 2015?

A snapshot survey conducted just a few weeks before 2015 comes to a close highlights that many of us did not achieve all we set out to achieve this year. Remarkably, only 36% of leaders, managers and employees surveyed felt they achieved ‘all or almost all’ of what they wanted to achieve this year at work.

The results, taken from Leadership Management Australia’s 2015 Achievements Survey – part of the ongoing Leadership Employment and Direction (L.E.A.D.) Survey series – show that around one-in-two (52%) achieved ‘half or more’ of what they had hoped to in 2015.

The remaining 12% claimed to have achieved ‘less than half’ of what they intended (10%) or ‘very little/none’ of what they planned to achieve (2%).

According to those achieving at least some of what they wanted to, the Top 5 Contributors to Achievement were:

Ranking %
1. Clear targets / objectives 38
=2. Effective time management 35
=2. Support from team members / colleagues 35
4. Effective delegation 28
5. Structured goal setting and review 24

In contrast, those who fell short of achieving all or almost all of what they had hoped to cited the following as the Top 5 Factors Limiting Achievement:

Ranking %
1. Lack of management support 28
2. Insufficient access to resources / materials 26
3. Not controlling / managing interruptions 24
4. Insufficient access to staff / personnel 22
=5. Unclear targets / objectives 21
=5. Ineffective time management 21

(Note – respondents could nominate up to three contributing and three limiting factors)

LMA’s Executive Director of Strategy and Growth, Andrew Henderson surmises that “there’s a lot to be said for having clear targets, managing time well, delegating effectively and using structured goal setting to drive achievement.”

Based on these results, it seems that those who have achieved the most in 2015 have taken the time to plan the various aspects of their year – a central theme of LMA’s unique learning experience that typifies its approach to training and development.

“All too often, people at all levels of organisations just let the year happen to them. They wake up at the end of the year disappointed with the ways things turned out. Having a goal-directed plan, backed by a consistent approach to developing and supporting people at all levels of the organisation is essential to deliver exceptional results through people”, he said.

Have you got a plan for you and your team for 2016?

Staff and bosses disagree on how well teams are being led

You might think you’re capable of leading your firm’s teams, but have you ever wondered how well you’re actually performing?

Not so good, according to Leadership Management Australasia’s new survey, which canvassed 1,300 respondents across various seniority levels.

The report identified “profound and disturbing gaps” between perceptions of leaders and the actual experiences of team members they lead.

For instance, it highlighted 96% of executives or senior managers and 94% of middle-managers or supervisors are committed towards the team they are leading.

However, only 62% of their staff felt that their leaders are dedicated to the team.

Likewise, while 97% of executives or senior managers and 95% of middle-managers or supervisors felt confident about their ability to lead teams, only 71% of employees concurred.

“Essentially, about one in three employees are not confident in their leaders and don’t have faith in their leaders’ competency to lead their workplace teams,” said Grant Sexton, executive chairman of Leadership Management Australasia.

“This major misalignment means teams are not achieving their potential and that impacts on the bottom line through cost, waste, loss of productivity and poor performance.”

Echoing earlier reports, the survey also found employees gave a much lower rating of their leaders’ competency than when the leaders rated themselves.

Only 69% of employees felt that their leaders were competent in leading teams.

In comparison, almost all executives/senior managers (99%) and middle-managers/supervisors (98%) felt they are competent in leading their firms’ teams.

Sexton added the extraordinary extent of difference between leader perceptions and team member experiences proves the need for leaders at all levels to take a much closer look at the teams they lead and work collaboratively with team members.

“In essence, leaders need to invest in the development of better team communication, relationships and processes to provide improved clarity and direction,” Sexton said.

Teamwork report_June 2015_ Graph 1Teamwork report_June 2015_ Graph 2Teamwork report_June 2015_ Graph 3Teamwork report_June 2015_ Graph 4Article originally published on Human Resources Online website –

Teamwork or Team-woe – converting teamwork perceptions into realities

New research on teams and teamwork from Leadership Management Australia’s Leadership Employment and Direction (L.E.A.D.) Survey series reveals some profound and disturbing gaps between the perceptions of leaders of teams and the experiences of team members they lead.

The extraordinary extent of difference between leader perceptions and team member experiences clearly illustrates there is a great deal of work to be done to enable better teamwork and ensure teams are able to perform to their potential.

The findings provide the ideal opportunity for leaders at all levels of organisations to take a much closer look at the teams they lead and work collaboratively with team members to close the gaps and deliver more effective team dynamics.

In essence, leaders need to invest in the development of better team relationships and processes to provide enhanced support and encouragement so desperately sought by team members.

Let’s take a closer look at the numbers to see what needs to be done:

 Confidence and competence in leading the team

Ratings of confidence and competence in leading the team are very high amongst leaders, with team members rating their leaders on these dimensions at a notably lower level:

Teamwork report_June 2015_ Graph 1

Teamwork report_June 2015_ Graph 2

 Levels of commitment to the team

Perceptions of levels of commitment to the team vary across the groups with team members far less certain of their leaders’ commitment to the team, despite themselves being more committed to their team than their leaders believe:

Teamwork report_June 2015_ Graph 3

Teamwork report_June 2015_ Graph 4

In summary…

Overall, the gaps identified clearly can be and need to be closed.

  1. Firstly, organisations should be equipping team leaders with enhanced skills and knowledge to lead the team more effectively to achieve its purpose and in doing so, to derive the greatest benefit from teamwork and the team’s work.
  2. Secondly team members need to be nurtured through recognition and feedback and the relationships between team leaders and team members need to be fostered and channelled towards the team’s purpose.
  3. Thirdly, team leaders and team members need to work collaboratively and connectedly to support the team as it pushes to achieve its objectives and fulfil its purpose.

The findings highlight significant potential benefits to be gained by investing time, energy and money to develop effective team dynamics and better relationships and routines within the team.

Click here to view to full report LEAD Report June 2015_Teamwork or team-woe

L.E.A.D. Survey prize draw winner announced

Congratulations to Paul Battenberg-Hardman from Caltex, whose name was drawn at random from the thousands who completed the recent wave of the Leadership Employment and Direction (L.E.A.D.) Survey.

Paul visited our Sydney office last week to collect his prize of an iPad Air.

Running since 2001, the L.E.A.D. Survey is Australasia’s most authoritative survey of workplace issues and their effect on management and employees.

It is an online rolling survey with information released in waves three times each year, constantly updating what is really happening within Australasian organisations.

Click here to complete the L.E.A.D. Survey.

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Open discussions about motivation trump surveys | LMA

Open discussions about motivation trump surveys

Leaders should use “good old-fashioned discussions” – not employee surveys – to close the gap between what they think motivates staff and what actually does, says leadership expert Andrew Henderson.

Many organisations run cultural and attitudinal surveys to find out what motivates their workers, but these are only effective to a degree, says Henderson, who is the CEO of training and development provider Leadership Management Australasia.

“The answer is good old-fashioned discussions and communication,” he told HR Daily.

“If managers and indeed leaders are committed to understanding what motivates their employees, and therefore how they can create an environment that serves that motivation, that commitment needs to be reflected into putting aside the time to sit down with individuals and smaller base teams.”

Henderson advises leaders to let employees know they’re looking for an open, honest dialogue straight off the bat.

“Creating a risk-free environment is a very important element to that, because that’s really the only way that you’re going to get the more true answers, rather than the answers they feel you want to hear.”

Leaders should try to draw employees on what motivates them by asking questions such as “what can we do to ensure that you’re happy here in your workplace, that you’re getting the satisfaction that you’re after, [and] that we’re creating an environment that serves you in what you’re looking for in your job”, he says.

These kinds of discussions are particularly important in light of new LMA research which reveals a wide gap between what leaders believe motivates workers and what actually does.

The survey of more than 2,600 leaders, managers and employees shows that while employees and managers rank a reasonable salary as the top driver of workplace performance, leaders view this as the fourth most important factor.

Leaders rank good feedback and communication as the top employee motivator, followed by clear objectives, and interesting or challenging work.

For employees, the second highest workplace factor that motivates them, however, is being entrusted with responsibility or independence, which both leaders and managers ranked as the fifth driver of workplace performance.

Henderson says part of the problem is that many managers and leaders let their own personal drivers colour their views about what motivates employees.

“Managers and leaders often view their employees’ motivations as being aligned with themselves. So it’s not often that they step out from that way of thinking and recognise that often managers and leaders have different drivers in what they’re trying to achieve within the workplace and professionally in their career,” he says.

How to motivate staff

Failure to understand what motivates employees can lead to disengagement, which in turns drives staff turnover, warns Henderson.

“Often we find it’s not the disengagement itself that causes someone to leave, but disengagement creates the opportunity for someone to be headhunted,” he says.

Henderson advises leaders and managers to take action to better understand employee motivation, including by:

  • Connecting with people – Get to know staff members as people, rather than simply as employees, says Henderson.

“It’s the old adage where people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Connecting with your people by taking interest in who they are outside of the office walls suggests to them strongly that you’re interested in them as an individual, not just as a resource to achieve certain KPIs,” he says.
“It’s important we’re not seen as just a tool and resource; we’re seen as an individual. Our workplace cares for us, but they’re also proud of the work we do. That starts to build the foundation of the relationship”;

  •  Understanding their motives – Establishing the relationship foundation can then help leaders and managers understand employees’ motivations.

“In a very simple sense, often our job or our workplace is a vehicle by which we aim to achieve, or use to achieve, our professional and personal goals,” Henderson says.
“Understanding what motivates someone is really [about] number one: understanding it, and number two: trying to work out how we can help you achieve your personal/professional goals; how can we shape the work you do and the KPIs you’re trying to achieve so that you’re getting that gratification on your end as well?”;

  •  Developing individual motivation plans – Employers should then create individual motivational plans for each employee, says Henderson.

“The motivational plan is just creating a profile on each of the employees and putting a far higher degree of importance on what motivates an individual, and then putting a plan behind it for how you can tick some of the boxes so that you are addressing some of those key motivational factors – not dissimilar to creating a professional development plan,” he says.
“It’s just being aware that we are where we are, we’re wanting to go somewhere, and there’s some steps to be taken in between. Let’s put a plan together to address those measures”;

  •  Creating team goals – Develop team goals and objectives that can cascade down to individual employees.

“If the individual can understand how the role they play within the workplace connects with the greater organisation’s goals and objectives – or at least how their role connects with the team’s objectives, KPIs and measurements – then within that it gives them a sense of purpose,” Henderson says.
“Disengagement often comes in when someone… [believes] that if they do a good job or a bad job – other than maybe affecting their longevity in the organisation – it doesn’t really make a difference to the team or the business. So their sense of purpose is low, and when our sense of purpose is low, why go that extra mile?”;

  •  Agreeing on meaningful performance metrics – Work with both individuals and the team as a whole to create appropriate and meaningful measures of performance, says Henderson.

“Most of us get out of bed in the morning and we go to work with the intent to do well, do a good day’s work, contribute to the team and help the business achieve its goals,” he says.
“Meaningful measures of performance help me as an individual in my role understand, am I developing? Am I getting better? And, at our core, many of us – generally speaking – want to grow, want to do better [and] want to know that we’re improving, so the meaningful measures actually give people a good chance to rate themselves and aim for something”;

  •  Providing regular feedback – Employees want to know their efforts are being noticed, so giving regular feedback is also crucial.

“We all like that feedback. We all like it being acknowledged that we are doing a good job but, importantly, providing feedback for… the employees also means providing feedback on where [they] can improve, and it’s this honest feedback that’s important to them,” he says.
“They don’t want a manager or a supervisor just telling them they’re doing fantastically well all the time… That sense of balanced and honest feedback builds trust because they know that their manager or supervisor is willing to give them the total picture, rather than just the good feedback”; and

  •  Being flexible – To attract and retain the best workers, give employees flexibility in how they perform their role, and how they’re supported and recognised at work, says Henderson.

“As technology continues to improve the way we can connect into our workplaces, while at the same time our personal lives all seem to be getting busier and busier and busier with kids and commitments, employees are looking for a workplace to be understanding that one size doesn’t necessarily fit all,” he says.
“It’s a case-by-case basis of an organisation weighing up the value of a person to their organisation against the flexibility that individual’s requiring and that often can come up as part of a discussion when they’re recruiting an individual or trying to retain someone”.

Article from HR Daily, 2 December 2014. More media coverage of this issue can be found here.