What Really Matters in Leadership?

October 14, 20205:15 pm493 views
What Really Matters in Leadership?
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Strong leadership is synonymous with high performing organisations – the reason why many employers invest greatly in their organisational leadership and team leadership development. According to the Deloitte survey, leadership is of importance to helping businesses thrive and it continuously develops from time to time. Majority (80 percent) of survey respondents believe that the 21st-century leadership has unique and new requirements that are important or very important. However, among those who cited that leadership is vital, only 25 percent have effectively built digital leaders and 30 percent said they are effectively developing leaders to meet evolving challenges. 

A big, unresolved issue here is what sort of leadership behaviour organisations should encourage. Is leadership so contextual that it defies standard definitions or development approaches? Should companies now concentrate their efforts on priorities such as role modeling, making decisions quickly, defining visions, and shaping leaders who are good at adapting? Or should they stress the virtues of enthusiastic communication? 

See also: Leadership Characteristics to Successfully Manage Crisis 

McKinsey research suggests that a small subset of leadership skills closely correlates with leadership success, particularly among frontline leaders. Using practical experience and searching the relevant academic literature, McKinsey came up with a comprehensive list of 20 distinct leadership traits. Then, they surveyed 189,000 people in 81 diverse organisations around the world to assess how frequently certain kinds of leadership behaviour are applied within their organisations. Finally, the team divided samples into organisations whose leadership performance was strong. The survey revealed that leaders in organisations with high-quality leadership teams typically displayed 4 of the 20 possible types of behaviour. These 4 explained 89 percent of the variance between strong and weak organisations in terms of leadership effectiveness. 

Below is the four traits of strong leadership in organisations: 

  • Solving problems effectively. The process that precedes decision making is problem solving, when information is gathered, analyzed, and considered. This is deceptively difficult to get right, yet it is a key input into decision making for major issues. 
  • Operating with a strong results orientation. Leadership is about not only developing and communicating a vision and setting objectives, but also following through to achieve results. Leaders with a strong results orientation tend to emphasize the importance of efficiency and productivity and to prioritize the highest-value work. 
  • Seeking different perspectives. This trait is conspicuous in managers who monitor trends affecting organisations, grasp changes in the environment, encourage employees to contribute ideas that could improve performance, accurately differentiate between important and unimportant issues, and give the appropriate weight to stakeholder concerns. Leaders who do well on this dimension typically base their decisions on sound analysis and avoid the many biases to which decisions are prone. 
  • Supporting others. Leaders who are supportive understand and sense how other people feel. By showing authenticity and a sincere interest in those around them, they build trust and inspire and help colleagues to overcome challenges. They intervene in group work to promote organisational efficiency, allaying unwarranted fears about external threats, and preventing the energy of employees from dissipating into internal conflict.

Experience shows that different business situations often require different styles of leadership. However, the point to make is that a kind of core leadership behaviour that will be relevant to most companies today, notably on the front line, is to invest in the development of the future leaders, prioritizing these four areas is a good place to start. 

Read also: HR in the Field of Managerial Leadership