UK companies increase focus on leadership skills

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on March 7, 2003

Despite concern over the increasing number of failures in corporate leadership, many businesses in the UK are focusing more on the leadership skills of junior managers than chief executive officers, according to research from The Work Foundation (TWF).

The Work Foundation's latest survey, 'Developing Leaders', reveals that company directors are least likely to receive leadership development training during the coming year, and are also the least likely to have received leadership development over the past two years.

In contrast, junior managers (including middle and lower management) were shown to be almost twice as likely to have received leadership development in the past two years, and are more than twice as likely to receive it in the coming year.

Great expectations
According to the survey, CEOs are only narrowly more likely to be expected to exhibit leadership qualities, even though the way that they motivate and inspire their employees is crucial to whether or not the company achieves its objectives.

Of the 221 organisations interviewed, 78% value and promote leadership qualities, and 75% believe leadership is essential. The overwhelming majority  (90%) already invest in some form of leadership development.

However, 17% felt that leadership qualities are neither valued nor promoted within their organisation.

Other findings
Ian Lawson, CEO for the TWF Campaign for Leadership, is encouraged to see that most companies see the need for effective leaders in order to create change and gain employee buy-in. But, he added, "Corporate heads need to give more time and commitment to personal and top-team leadership development." Other key findings highlighted by the report include:

  • Most of the companies surveyed (72%) differentiate between leadership and management, while 24% say there is no difference between them. Larger organisations are more likely to differentiate between the two.
  • Exactly 75% of respondents said their organisation believes that leadership is essential, while 23% say it is simply 'good to have'. A mere 2% considered it 'not very important'.
  • Senior managers are most likely (82%) to be required to have leadership as a core competency, compared to only 60% of CEOs and board members for whom leadership is a main competency.
  • Only 42% of organisations provide leadership training internally, while 48% provide it externally.
  • Over the past two years, the largest group receiving leadership training was senior management (61%), followed by middle management (55%), team leaders and junior managers (47%), executive team (42%), and chief executives and board members (25%). Incredibly, nearly 10% of companies report that no managers have received leadership training during the past two years.
  • Leadership skills development over the coming 12 months will focus on middle management (62%), senior management (58%), team leaders and junior management (56%), executive team (40%), and chief executives and board members (23%).
  • The effectiveness of leadership is evaluated in several ways. The most common method is informal feedback (57%), followed by staff satisfaction surveys (53%), '360 degree' feedback (41%), staff retention levels (31%), upward appraisal (28%), productivity levels (21%), and focus groups (14%).

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