Flunking the Leadership Test

A survey of 300 Australian and New Zealand managers showed up major generational differences in leadership attitudes and styles – baby boomers in particular seem more focused on finding the work/play balance than their younger more strategy-driven counterparts.
According to the school’s head of leadership, Dr Karen Morley, the study also highlighted chronic failure to ‘walk the leadership talk’.
The survey shows that most Australasian managers have long way to go before they can call themselves leaders and while respondents quoted ‘vision’ as core component of successful leadership they admitted to reverting to short-term solutions in leadership roles.
“The survey hit number of ‘hot’ buttons that our business leaders must consider as matter of urgency,” says Morley. “It confirmed expected differences between generations and genders, supporting international research, but most importantly, it has highlighted the chasm between what we say we expect of our leaders and what we actually do in leadership roles.
“With managing change such preoccupation, this gap between expectation and reality must be having serious impact on how well our managers perform and, as consequence, how well our organisations perform.”
Being able to create change and follow through on it within the organisation was strong theme in the survey findings. Being flexible enough to respond to external change and ideas was also seen as important.
When asked to consider their circumstances two years down the track, managers identified that they would also need to be entrepreneurial enough to exploit change and create opportunities.
Asked to rate the qualities of the ideal leader, the majority of responses described someone visionary, inspirational/motivational and honest as fitting the bill. Yet these qualities tended to take the sideline when managers were faced with day-to-day responsibilities.
“The leadership gap is marked,” says Morley. “If we’re to remain competitive as nation, this gap needs to be closed.”
Other key findings from the survey include clear differences in how male and female managers perceive and prioritise workplace challenges. It seems women are more likely to focus on challenges from outside the organisation such as global economic conditions and government, while men are more focused on internal organisational issues.

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