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Leadership perceived as under-developed


Between 2.5 and six million workers in the UK have some management responsibilities and millions more are expected to exercise leadership skills in the workplace, yet employers often overlook the importance of developing these abilities according to the results of a NOP poll commissioned by the new Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM).

The ILM survey found 57 per cent of employees can identify people in leadership roles without leadership qualities. A previous survey published in July by management development consultancy OPP Ltd, found that 66 per cent of respondents felt UK leaders were not good enough to compete with their international counterparts.

ILM survey findings

- Respondents see leadership as still residing in the upper regions of their organisations. However, not so much at board level (21%), but more at senior management level (34%). Even first line managers and team members see it this way – in fact, their perception is that senior managers (41%) account for much more of the organisations leadership qualities than directors (18%). Senior managers rate higher than directors for being fair minded, charismatic and supportive.

- The key qualities that the directors who do show leadership are: forward looking, able to communicate, have a strategic view with some inspiration. Few are seen as ruthless, aggressive, courageous or compassionate.

- Senior management show their leadership qualities primarily through their ability to communicate and their knowledge.

- The 3 qualities of ability to communicate, knowledge and being supportive become even more pronounced for middle managers, first line managers and team members.

- 57% acknowledged that there were people in leadership roles within their organisations who did not show leadership qualities.

- Looking at those who lacked leadership skills, respondents perceived that the highest percent (33%) of them were directors.

- There seem to be a variety of reasons why people fail in leadership. The top 3 reasons were: inability to delegate, not a good role model and doesn’t command loyalty. Key failings were perceived to be: inability to delegate, indecision, and wanting to be liked too much!

- Asked to identify the top leadership quality by rating it out of 10, respondents identified: ability to communicate as 10, give direction as 9 and lead by example, also as 9.

- Analysing which management levels identified the ability to communicate as the primary leadership quality – middle managers were the highest and directors were the lowest.

- Asked what percentage of leadership skills were inherent in a person and what could be acquired, the most went for 60:40% i.e. 60% of skills were inherent, but 40% could be learned.

- School was the overwhelming choice of respondents as the place where leadership ability could be first identified.


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