Poor leadership will cost Australian organisations dearly

“Only one in four employees in Australian workplaces believe their managers do a good job,” These findings are the result of a new survey into management by the Centre for Workplace Leadership, a federally funded research centre at Melbourne University and reported in today’s Age newspaper.

Three quarters of staff think they are poorly led.  This has huge ramifications for organisational performance.  Change management, evolution, innovation and restructuring are all things that need to happen to ensure survival let alone success and they all depend on good leadership.  If people do not believe in their leaders these activities are going to be less successful at best and utter failures at worst.

Why has Australian corporate leadership fallen to such a low point?

The wrong people are being promoted and recruited.  Many organisations don’t know or understand what skills and abilities they require in their middle to senior roles.  Furthermore even if they do have some concept of what they need they are not good at assessing potential leaders for it.  Too many organisations are simply putting high potential selection and promotion down to an online survey and good internal relationships.

When new leaders start their roles they are not always set up for success.  They are not supported or guided and helped to understand how their new role requires different abilities to their previous one.  With this lack of “on boarding” new leaders will be inclined to simply keep doing what made then successful in their previous role, after all it helped to get them promoted.  This means new senior leaders (and very often not so new ones as well) keep working at a micro level within the organisation rather than moving to a more macro focus.  This again can be a major impediment to organisational evolution and innovation, i.e. the organisation gets left behind.

Due to a variety of reasons Australia has escaped the worst of recent global financial trends.  However, Australia is no longer in the fortunate economic position it was several years ago.  This is at a time when many of Australia’s global competitors are finally moving forward economically after years of stagnation.  This is a time when Australian businesses need to be well lead, from the top and within.  This is not a time to take a tick in a box approach to high potential identification and promotion, this is a time to do it properly to get the best leaders, deliver the best organisational performance and ultimately the best shareholder return.

by Simon Tedstone

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1 Comment

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One response to “Poor leadership will cost Australian organisations dearly

  1. Barry Wyatt

    Nice blog Simon ! and its true, Most leaders in large corporates especially those that are responsible for running units that make up the engine of an organisation are smart people but don’t really understand the part of the business they are running . A significant number are merely trying to get another tick on their impressive CV so they can move on quickly to higher and better things .

    Its an OK strategy when conditions are good because companies thrive and make profit even if they are poorly run. A rising tide raises all boats .

    These current conditions affecting corporate Australia will severely test many companies and they will find that over the last 10 years they have become complacent when it came to investing in real leadership capability .

    The problem we now face is that senior leaders have not got the experience , talent, knowledge and confidence to know what to do when the going gets tough . And to make matters worse they think the answer is to bring in consultants to help them formulate – strategy , organisation design and cost out initiatives and thats when the real downward spiral begins .

    The next 7 years are going to be tough in corporate Australia as we repay the debt for not investing in leadership capability during the good times . Or for thinking that during the good times it was all down to good leadership, which clearly it was not.

    thanks

    Barry

    Barry Wyatt 0423 027 184

    >

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