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3 Surprising Research Findings Every Leader Should Consider

Posted by Louellen Essex on April 10, 2014 in Leadership

Research engines are quickly producing numerous studies that challenge some of the commonly held beliefs about organizations, leaders, and employees. Here are some current findings, along with suggestions for how to put the research into practice.

Organizations fail to choose management candidates who have the right talent.

Gallup’s study found that 82% of the time, staff members are promoted, not based on a match of their skills to defined management competencies, but because they are perceived as “deserving it” due to tenure or good work in their current positions. The study also discovered that within any given organization, one in ten employees possess the talent to be a manager, but often these individuals are “hiding in plain sight”. These findings help to explain why good managers are so rare, the study concluded.

Put this research into action by making sure you are evaluating candidates for managerial positions primarily based on an assessment of their managerial talents. Previous Gallup studies found that great managers motivate by engaging staff in a compelling mission and vision, are assertive enough to drive outcomes and overcome adversity, create a culture of accountability and build relationships through open dialogue and transparency that builds trust. Look for managerial talent in the nooks and crannies of your organization, not only in the obvious places.

Managers do not drive engagement.

We have often heard that people leave managers, not organizations. Research by Culture Amp and Tiny Pulse challenges that concept. They found that development opportunities, leadership, and peer relationships have greater impact than front-line managers on employee commitment and engagement. Because organizations are much flatter with team leaders performing many of the functions of management, the traditional idea that “engagement is driven by a manager” is now out of date. While staff may leave because of a bad manager, they don’t stay primarily because of a good one.

Put this research into practice by putting more emphasis on inventing meaningful development plans and career paths for every staff member. Work with upper level leaders to strengthen the trust with employees by being transparent and communicating effectively. Make team building a priority to nurture strong peer-to-peer relationships.

Most organizations say leadership is the most important talent issue, but do a poor job of developing leaders.

“Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Survey 2014 revealed that while 86% of survey respondents said that leadership was the number 1 talent issue they face, only 13 % say they do a good job of developing leaders. Leadership development was perceived as inadequate in many dimensions: executive involvement and ownership of leadership development, providing programs at all levels in the organization, succession planning, teaching global skills and providing experiences, utilizing experiential and role-based programs, and including focused programs for Millenials. These elements define what an up-to-date, effective leadership development should look like.

Put this research into play by evaluating your organization’s leadership development approach, then advocating for the key components identified in the study. If you are in a key position to develop programs, work to ensure executives own them, not only Human Resources and Learning/Development departments. Do your part to contribute to the meaningful growth of leaders at all levels in the organization.

New research sheds new light on how leaders can discard ways of thinking that are no longer relevant. It helps us update our skills and way of thinking in a rapidly changing world of work.

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In these times of rapid change, leaders can never stop learning.”

Dr. Louellen Essex