Without proper leadership, even the best and boldest strategies run the risk of dying on the vine with their potential never fully realised. Leadership failure-rates can range from 50% to 60%, which should be a major cause for concern as this costs organisations billions each year (Hogan et al., 1994). There is ample evidence in the news and in recent research reports that even some of the best organisations are failing to adapt to change, implement their strategic plans successfully or prepare for a more uncertain future. We hazard a guess that leadership shortcomings are largely to blame.
So, if this is the case, the current crisis is, first and foremost, a crisis of leadership. Like the sports coach whose mediocre team never wins a championship, even with a team of talented players, the CEO can’t hope to achieve bold new successes without giving thought to his leadership strategy. In the words of William Pasmore from the Center for Creative Leadership, “Too many organisations have become complacent with their existing leadership programmes.”
This is concerning because as well-known companies disappear or are taken over and new forces like the economies of China and India rise, surveys of CEOs show that they believe the one factor that will determine their fate is the quality of their leadership talent.
So what can your organisation do to better prepare current and future leaders?
Training in management skills is not enough.
In recent years a great deal of research has been carried out to discover which qualities distinguish a ‘manager’ from a ‘leader’ and to define the difference between a competent leader and a great leader. Fundamentally, a manager can ‘manage’ without necessarily being a ‘leader’. A manager can implement processes, monitor performance, set business goals and objectives and generally take care of the day-to-day needs of his or her staff. However, relying purely on those basic management skills does not necessarily innovate, inspire, excite, or provide a clear vision to the subordinate team. Achieving authentic leadership takes more than textbook management skills.
You need a leadership strategy.
A leadership strategy makes explicit:
- how many leaders you need,
- of what kind,
- with what skills,
- and behaving in what fashion – individually and collectively -
to achieve the total success you seek. Like business strategies, leadership strategies are based on a thorough analysis of the current situation and an informed view of the future. The strategy then offers a series of recommendations to close the gap between the current situation and desired future. Once the leadership strategy is known, a leadership development strategy can be formulated outlining what is required to achieve the desired future state as well as identify the inputs and implications for the organisation’s talent management processes.
Are your leaders born or made?
Can we simply train new leadership behaviours into our managers? The answer is no. Modifying an individual’s behaviour goes beyond the realm of training and into the realm of coaching: a longer term, supportive method of shifting the way an individual presents themselves to his or her colleagues and the outside world. But before paying for a professional coach to take a manager to the next level, an individual’s behaviour needs to be measured in order to determine where the perceived developmental areas are. This is best measured via the popular 360°assessment.
By creating a realistic picture of each person – and identifying the areas where they need to develop – an Origin 360 Assessment is a very effective and trusted means of measuring, and developing leadership potential. For budding leaders to compete with the world’s best, organisations need to embrace leadership development. The price of not doing so will leave us with plenty of managers, but very few leaders. And ultimately, even fewer sustainable companies.
Leadership Models, Methods, and Applications, by Bruce J. Avolio, John J. Sosik, Dong I. Jung, and Vair Berson
Developing a Leadership Strategy, by William Pasmore, Ph.D.
Measuring and Modifying Behaviour, by DBM.