Effective Leadership Is A Rare Sighting

If you are experiencing bad leadership, you are not alone! A friend recently shared with me the not-so-good performance review she received. My first thought was “Uh, oh. Here we go with a so-called leader projecting on his or her employees.” Sure enough, my friend, who is an effective leader, got slammed by her boss.

I hear this refrain a lot from friends, coachees and colleagues: effective leadership is a rare sighting. Unfortunately, the pool of great leaders is a shrinking one.  Research conducted by The Center For Creative Leadership “surfaced a surprising challenge – the presence of a skills gap.  Leaders in both the East and West report an overwhelming lack of preparedness” (2008, p. 4). The Corporate Leadership Council’s research echoed this same concern: close to 60% of organizations state experiencing a shortage in leadership, swelling a significant and frightening 40 percentage points from the previous year (Retrieved from https://clc.executiveboard.com/Public/CurrentResearch.aspx).

The findings of Executive Development Associates (EDA) expanded this concern from existing leaders to leaders-in-waiting (Hagemann & Chartrand, 2009). EDA’s report on executive development trends identified increasing bench strength as the top priority of executive development in the next few years. EDA research also ranked the top 5 skills the next wave of leaders are deficient in: (1) strategic thinking; (2), leading change; (3) creating a vision and engaging others around that; (4) inspiring others; and (5) systems thinking.

Ed Gordon, author of the 2009 book Winning the Global Talent Showdown and the 2013 book Future Jobs: Solving the Employment and Skills Crisis, predicted that if we don’t change our ways, 14 million to 25 million vacant jobs will exist by 2020 that can’t be filled because people don’t have the soft skills. Gordon noted, and history is proving him correct, that if you don’t have the talent to run your business, it’s not sustainable.

In a whitepaper from the Center for Creative Leadership entitled The Leaders Gap: What You Need, And Still Don’t Have, When It Comes To Leadership Talent, author Jean Brittain Leslie noted that

The World Economic Forum on the global outlook for 2015 identified the lack of leadership as the No. 3 challenge over the next 12-18 months. Out of 1,767 respondents to the Survey on the Global Agenda, 86% agree there is a leadership crisis in the world today. (p. 1)

Recent research continues to show the gap widening in significant ways. Bruce Tulgan has interviewed tens of thousands of workers and their supervisors in nearly every industry. His findings aren’t good news: “Overwhelmingly, the data point to a steady diminution in the soft skills of young people in the workplace, beginning with Gen X and continuing into Gen Z. Today’s young workers are increasingly likely to have significant weaknesses in at least one (but usually several) key soft skills.” (Retrieved from https://trainingindustry.com/blog/leadership/the-soft-skills-gap-growing-steadily-from-gen-x-to-gen-z/)

This research evidences and lends credence to the belief that our current leadership strategy isn’t solving the problem. Existing models and paradigms aren’t addressing the most pressing leadership challenges. Organizations and executive leadership now find themselves with and without: with a skills gap that only seems to be growing and without an updated map for the journey to close that gap. Reality is confronting us and the story line isn’t good news.

This means the way we develop leaders and the paradigms we use need to change to accommodate the new challenges in developing leaders, otherwise bad leadership will become even more common than it already is now. It’s a challenge, but we are up to the task. Our upcoming e-book Maximizing Leadership Presence: A Solution For Closing The Growing Skills Gap will share everything you need to know about developing great leaders in today’s age.

Until we meet again, busy seeing the Champion in you.

Dr. Tomi Bryan