Leadership has a huge effect on every aspect of a company’s operations. One of the big areas it affects is the ability to attract talent. A-level talent wants to work at companies with strong leaders. That’s why I was so fascinated to see what the folks in HR told us they think are the traits of an effective leader in our recent 2016 McQuaig Global Talent Recruitment Report.
The survey also revealed how effective HR professionals felt their own leaders are and what that’s doing to their efforts to attract top performers. Let’s look at a snapshot of those results.
We asked nearly 450 HR professionals from around the globe what they thought were the most important traits of an effective leader. Here’s how they ranked them.
Everyone has their own idea of what makes an effective leader and I’ve heard strong arguments for many different traits. To offer some insight on the list our survey revealed, I asked leadership expert, Mark C. Crowley, author of Lead From The Heart: Transformational Leadership For The 21st Century, to weigh in on these results.
“That ‘trust’ comes in at just 52% is disconcerting,” said Crowley. “To me that’s foundational. And leadership can’t just be responsible for implementing change; leaders must initiate change. So who’d have the courage to take risky steps in their business unit when no one in their company has made being a change agent a priority?”
Our leadership is … not bad
That’s not exactly a glowing recommendation, but that’s what the research tells us most HR professionals think about their leaders. Just 25% rated their leaders as “very effective”, while the majority (61%) felt they were only “somewhat effective” and 14% felt their leaders were ineffective.
That means 75% of people in leadership roles are merely adequate or worse. If we know from other research that as many as two-thirds of employees who quit are leaving their boss and not the company or role, that’s making it very difficult to hang onto good people.
If we’re putting ill-equipped people into leadership roles, as the numbers suggest, then we need to train them so they can perform in the job, but that doesn’t appear to be happening for a lot of companies.
Nearly 40% of respondents said their company has no leadership training program.
“Not investing in leadership development also has to translate into significant organizational performance limitations throughout these companies,” Crowley said. “If only 25% of leaders are exceptional, then the selection process for managerial roles also has to be weak." Click to Tweet
"75% of people they put into managerial roles are merely adequate — or more likely doing harm.”
Of the 62% of companies that do offer leadership training, most of that is targeted at new managers, with less than half of those providing training (or about 30% of all companies) to the C-Suite executives.
“How can a CEO succeed without growing and evolving?” asked Crowley. “If CEOs get stale in their thinking, they’ll be unable to recognize the potential threats their companies face.”
According to our survey it seems that good leadership is a result of systemic planning, not a chance occurrence.
In companies where the leaders are “very effective”, 79% of new leaders get leadership training. That’s true of just 38% of companies with ineffective leaders. The strong leader group is even more likely to provide managers with interview training (53%) than their ineffective counterparts (13%), making it much more likely that those managers will make better hiring decisions.
If your managers are getting leadership training, which makes them better managers, and interview training, so they can spot and hire better employees, you can expect to see better retention, better company results and succession management has got to be easier and more effective.