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Putting The Spotlight On Leadership Competencies

Leadership Analysis

Are we getting what we want (or need) from our leaders?

Latest results from more than 10,000 respondents to the Leadership Employment and Direction (L.E.A.D.) Survey conducted by Leadership Management Australia (LMA) put the spotlight squarely on the most important leadership skills and competencies we expect to see in our leaders.

“You can’t always get what you want,
but if you try sometimes, you just might find,
you get what you need…”
You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Rolling Stones (1969)
 

It seems we know what we want, but as the song goes, we can’t always get it. Many of our organisational leaders are behaving in ways that are misaligned with what is expected of them or needed from them by the people they seek to lead.

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 focus of leadership competencies and skills expected of our leaders relate to communication, problem-solving and decision-making and developing and coaching others.

The rankings of the leadership competencies thought to most clearly enable leaders and senior managers to do their jobs well are understood across all levels.

Despite some variation across the levels, the same top 7 out of the 16 competencies listed are reported as the keys to effective leadership:

Leadership competencies Employees
Ranking
2019
Managers
Ranking
2019
Leaders
Ranking
2019
Communication skills 1 1 1
Problem solving and decision making 2 3 5
Developing and coaching others 3 2 2
Teamwork 4 5 6
Planning and organising 5 4 7
Building relationships (internal and external) 6 6 4
Strategic thinking 7 7 3
 
Q. All
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.
 

 Whilst strategic thinking features more prominently in the minds of Leaders and problem solving and decision making are higher on the list for Employees and Managers, the reality is a common set of expectations of the leadership skills and competencies needed to perform well as a leader.

Leadership behaviours

New Manager Leading a Team

When we look at how these skills and competencies become evident in the behaviours of our leaders, there is generally solid alignment – many of the expected leadership skills and competencies are obvious in the behaviours exhibited.

For example

The skill of problem solving is high on the list for competencies expected in our leaders and also features in the behaviours demonstrated by Leaders as seen by Managers and Employees.

However, there are also some clear gaps between the ways in which Leaders believe they behave and what their Managers and Employees see.

For example

Where Leaders believe their most clearly demonstrated leadership behaviour is motivating and bringing out the best in others, Employees rank this 13th and Managers 11th in terms of behaviours displayed by their leaders.

Employees and Manager see their Leaders operating with a strong results orientation more than any other behaviour suggesting that their Leaders’ motivations (and the resulting behaviours) are heavily skewed towards results more than the people who enable those results.

Two important behaviours witnessed by Employee and Managers from their Leaders are being supportive and remaining composed and confident in uncertainty – very important when many organisations are facing increasing volatility and uncertain economic times.

Clearly there is a need to align the desired or expected leadership skills and competencies and their practical demonstration through the leadership behaviours we see from our leaders. This will enable us to get both what we want AND what we need.

Leadership behaviours Leaders (about themselves)
Ranking
2019
Managers (about their leaders)
Ranking
2019
Employees (about their leaders)
Ranking
2019
Motivating and bringing out the best in others 1 11 13
Developing others 2 5 7
Solving problems effectively 3 4 4
Being supportive 4 2 2
Operating with a strong results orientation 5 1 1
Role modelling organisational values 6 9 12
Making quality decisions 7 10 9
Remaining composed and confident in uncertainty 8 3 3
 
Q. Leaders
Looking at the list of leadership behaviours below, please identify the FIVE behaviours you exhibit most as a leader/senior manager of your organisation
 
Q. Managers and Employees 
Looking at the list of leadership behaviours below, please identify the FIVE behaviours you see most from the leaders/senior managers in your organisation

Clearly there is a need to align the desired or expected leadership skills and competencies and their practical demonstration through the leadership behaviours we see from our leaders. This will enable us to get both what we want AND what we need.

Strategic importance of leadership development

In light of this clear need to align the necessary and expected leadership skills and competencies with their demonstration via leadership behaviours, the strategic importance of leadership development has never been more pronounced.

More than seven-in-ten across all levels of organisations recognise leadership development as either the most important (14-19%) or one of the top few strategic challenges (58-63%) facing their organisations’ future:

  Leaders (Executives/Senior Managers) 2019
%
Managers (Middle Managers and Supervisors) 2019
%
Employees (Non-Managerial/ Supervisory Employees) 2019
%
The most important strategic challenge for my organisation 19 15 14
One of the top few strategic challenges for my organisation 63 58 58
Just below the top few strategic challenges for my organisation 14 17 16
Not an important strategic challenge for my organisation 3 4 4
 
Q. Which of the following best describes how strategically important leadership development is for your organisation’s future?

Reassuring is the fact that 82% of Leaders recognise the strategic importance of leadership development – a clear nod to the need to devote time, money and resources to develop tomorrow’s leaders.

So what does this mean for our leaders?

Leaders and senior managers need to remain vigilant in developing their leadership skills and competencies and consistent in demonstrating the desirable leadership behaviours.

By regularly thinking about and acting in accordance with the expectations of their people, leaders will demonstrate what leadership is about and greatly assist in developing quality leadership and quality leaders for the future.

Given the critical importance of leadership development to the future of our organisations, leaders owe it to the next generation of leaders to lead well, be the example these emerging leaders can and will follow and help others to learn how to lead better in future – to be both what they want AND what they need.

Become a highly effective and respected leader

Whether you’re an experienced leader or aspiring to become one, there are steps you can take to grow your skills, knowledge and capacity to motivate and inspire. LMA offers a range of short courses and in-depth development programs that support your key people to excel in this arena, effectively unlocking the potential of your entire team.

Explore our Leadership & Management Courses today, and see our upcoming course dates and locations in our current course schedule.