Research shared on HBR by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman from the leadership development firm Zenger Folkman provides insights into the leadership flaws of senior managers and how leadership skills can be improved and developed.
The research by Zenger Folkman surveyed 545 senior managers who participated in a recent leadership development program, where each were given 360 assessments to determine their skill across 16 different attributes essential to leadership effectiveness. The results highlighted some of the most common weaknesses amongst poorly rated senior managers, as illustrated in the chart below.
The Shifting Leadership Challenge
What’s interesting about the identified common area of weaknesses is that the majority deal with so called “soft skills” such as inspiring and motivating others, building relationships, collaboration and teamwork, as opposed to the “hard skills” of problem solving, driving results, setting goals or technical expertise.
What the survey highlights is that as managers climb the organisation hierarchy their ability to motivate others, build relationships, collaborate and build teams become increasingly important. The more senior you become in an organisation that less the leadership challenge revolves around the technical and operational aspects of leadership, rather the leadership challenge becomes one of inspiring others, building relationships, collaboration and teamwork.
The Need for Leadership Development
One of the common weaknesses identified amongst poorly rated senior managers is a lack of focus on self development. Weak senior managers neglect the critical area of personal development. They fail to acknowledge that irrespective of their position, they need to continuously develop their leadership skills. Ironically, becoming a senior manager is a time when individuals require leadership development most.
The research from Zenger Folkman demonstrates that improvement and development of leadership skills is possible. For those lowest rated senior managers, after receiving coaching on their leadership flaws, the research found the following:
- 75% of these leaders were able to change their behaviour enough that their peers, teams and bosses could see an improvement.
- In 18 months to two years these managers improved their leadership effectiveness from bottom performers to above average in their leadership effectiveness.
So, are you still developing your leadership skills?