Bosses are failing in the basics of leadership - Business Works
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Bosses are failing in the basics of leadership

Simon Mitchell, Director at DDI UK New research among employees across the globe finds that leaders lack empathy with their staff, have poor leadership skills and that a third of them are ineffective. The report found that one in three respondents (34%) said they only sometimes or never consider their leader to be effective, and well over a third (37%) say they are only sometimes or never motivated to give their best by their leader.

Lessons for Leaders from the People Who Matter includes data from an online survey undertaken for DDI by Harris Interactive. This spoke to over 1250 full-time employees in non-management positions in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, China, India, Germany and South East Asia (Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore) and found that they would rather suffer a bad hangover, do housework or see their credit card bill arrive in the mail than face the prospect of sitting through a performance discussion with their boss. Perhaps not surprising when only 40% of respondents report that their boss never damages their personal self-esteem, leaving 60% saying they do sometimes, most of the time or always.

The majority of respondents not currently working for the best manager they ever worked for (53%) said they would be 20% to 60% more productive if they were working for their 'best ever' boss and a quarter (26%) said they would be 41% to 60% more productive. In other words, for every two to three people managed by their 'best ever' leaders, there would be a productivity gain equal to a whole new extra person.

"We wanted to hear how the customers of leaders themselves saw their managers and bosses," said Simon Mitchell, Director at DDI UK and one of the report authors. "These findings should be of enormous concern to any business. They show that leaders are failing in their obligation to employees and, therefore, their organisation. The consequences of managers and bosses with poor leadership skills are enormous and the impact good leaders have in terms of employee motivation and productivity are significant."

The survey also found that nearly half (45%) of respondents think they could be more effective than their manager, but only 46% would actually want to. Respondents cited the additional stress, responsibility and pressure as reasons for staying where they were. This has implications for the future supply of leaders.

Comparing the results from people with the best and worst managers (based on respondent perceptions), those reporting they felt motivated to give their best leapt from 11% to 98%, and those reporting that their manager does a good job helping them be more productive went from 5% to 94%.

"Workers report that managers fail to ask for their ideas and input, are poor at work related conversations and do not provide sufficient feedback on their performance," continued Simon. "Itís no wonder employee engagement levels are low. Leaders remain stubbornly poor at these fundamental basics of good leadership that have little to do with the current challenging business climate. Itís important that organisations equip the people managing their workforce with these basic leadership essentials and that managers are aware of their own blind spots in these areas. The good news for businesses and employees alike is that many of these leadership skills can be learnt."

Other findings include:

  • Over a third (35%) of respondents say their bosses only listen to their workplace concerns sometimes or never;
  • A third (34%) of bosses single out certain employees as 'favourites' (most of the time/always)'
  • Only half (51%) say their manager asks for their help in solving problems most of the time or always and 45% say their boss 'only sometimes or never' gives sufficient feedback on their performance;
  • Unsurprisingly, two out of every five (39%) respondents say they have left a job primarily because of their manager or leaders and 55% say they have considered leaving a job because of their leader.

To contact Simon Mitchell or for more information about talent management company DDI visit:

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