While the CEO, board and senior management still play an important role, employees throughout an organization can and should provide leadership. This emerging preference for leadership by many, as well as confidence in leadership from unexpected sources comes at a time when leaders are under scrutiny.
Disillusionment is high; only one in four (24 percent) people believe leaders are effective. Global crisis, economic uncertainty and changes in business and technology continue at a relentless pace. Against this backdrop, leaders are being judged quickly and at times mercilessly.
According to a recent Ketchum leadership study on more than 6,000 respondents in 12 countries reveals people are looking more to employees at all levels for leadership instead of just those at the top of the organisational hierarchy.
Findings from the fourth annual Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor (KLCM) 2015, reveals 41 percent of respondents believe leadership should come mainly from the organization and all its employees, compared with 25 percent that believe leadership should come only from the CEO.
This indicates to the demise of CEO-as-celebrity leadership style and highlights a greater-than-ever opportunity for “leadership by all” – a collaborative and communicative culture that empowers employees at every level.
See: Top 5 Secrets for HR Managers to Promote Leadership Development
The Rise of the Title-less Leader
“Title-less Leader” articulates the rising support for the concept of shared leadership and findings reveal that leaders no longer reside only at the top of an org chart, nor do they necessarily possess traditional leadership titles.
Tyler Durham, partner, and president of Ketchum Change says, “People expect organizations and leaders to lead at the speed of now. If we continue to view leadership as the responsibility of only a few people in the organization, companies will never be fit for the future.”
Open and Transparent Communications Continue to Rule
Open and transparent communication is absolutely critical to effective leadership. Yet only 24 percent feel leaders communicate effectively (an all-time low), with a 44-point gap between expectation and delivery.
“In this era of cynicism and scrutiny, the world is looking to businesses and business leaders to set the example for great leadership and to help us advance against some of the world’s most intractable problems,” said Rob Flaherty, senior partner, CEO and president of Ketchum. “This should serve as a tremendous catalyst for communicators to push our leaders to not just communicate but also to help change the way companies operate and to demonstrate a consistency of words and actions.”
As women are encouraged increasingly to “lean in” to positions of leadership in the workplace, the worldwide dialogue on important issues around gender gaps and diversity continues.
Five Questions for Leading Successfully at the Speed of Now
Organizations are encouraged to consider these five questions as they evaluate their leadership and communication strategies in the context of today’s fast-changing environment:
- Are you focusing the majority of your communication resources across all levels of your organization, as opposed to the few at the top?
- Are you leveraging the enormous power of your employees and earned media to authentically show who you are and what you believe in?
- Do you have a communications operating system and listening mechanism in place to enable rapid decision-making and responses?
- Has your organization established the goodwill needed for your leadership, organization and brand to be well-received in times of crisis?
- Is your company leveraging the traits of those leaders seen as best demonstrating these characteristics in order to grow your entire leadership base?
Identifying the top five traits of effective leader, the survey stated: leading by example (63 percent), communicating in an open and transparent way (61 percent), admitting mistakes (59 percent), bringing out the best in others (58 percent), and handling controversial issues or crises calmly and confidently (58 percent).
Also read: Leadership Development Shouldn’t be at the cost of ROI
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