In today’s volatile business environment, leaders are being challenged more than ever to adapt to new realities and lead ongoing change. But, do they have what it takes?
We were recently asked by one of our global clients to determine the most common development needs from assessments completed by 30 people in preparation for an advanced leadership development program.
It set us thinking. Could we go broader and identify trends across our 360-feedback database?
Indeed, we could. And we found the results of our analysis fascinating.
Here is a brief summary that we hope will trigger some reflection and insights for you and your organisation.
Drawing on Korn Ferry’s global competency framework, we examined data gathered for 226 leaders who participated in Voices 360-feedback across Australia and New Zealand. With input from over 2,000 raters, these individuals work in senior management and executive roles in a range of public, private and government organisations.
We compared what people thought was important for these leaders to be successful in their roles with the level of skill they currently demonstrate. Three competencies immediately jumped out where there was a significant leadership gap – importance was high and skill was low.
- Builds Effective Teams – Defined as developing strong-identity teams that apply diverse skills to achieve common goals.
- Directs Work – Defined as giving direction, delegating, and removing obstacles in order to get work done.
- Drives Engagement – Defined as creating a climate where people are motivated to do their best to help the organisation achieve its objectives.
In combination, these competencies are directly related to leveraging talent and inspiring people through a sense of purpose and belonging. As core leadership skills, they have a profound impact on the way people relate to each other and their organisation, as well as the discretionary effort they put into doing their work.
When faced with continuous change, people look for something to hold on to. They want to cut through uncertainty, understand what needs to be done and feel part of something bigger than themselves.
If leaders are unable to create an environment where people feel committed and empowered to perform, there can be significant consequences to business performance in both bottom-line results and staff engagement.
We think the results of our analysis are important because it’s not the first time we have seen them. They align with Korn Ferry’s global competency research findings that were released in 2017.
There, we saw that skill level in these three competencies was actually lower for executives than managers. Yet, two were found to be significant to performance at the executive level (Builds Effective Teams and Directs Work).
In our view, Builds Effective Teams warrants special attention because we have seen it steadily growing in importance over the last decade according to our 360-feedback data. People are increasingly recognising there are substantial benefits when teams are set up for success.
However, skill in developing a well-functioning team has not kept pace with demand. Not surprisingly, this competency rates high on Korn Ferry’s Developmental Difficulty Index, meaning it is a more complex skill to acquire, compared to other competencies in the framework. In addition, Failure to Build a Team has been identified by Korn Ferry as one of ten potential career stallers for leaders.
Our conclusion is that the current strength in these areas is not sufficient for optimum effectiveness in leadership roles today. What’s your experience? Does your organisation have a leadership gap in any of these areas?
If so, you may be thinking about what can be done to improve the situation. The good news is that plenty of resources are available to build capability in each of the three competencies.