Survey of top leadership Skills – Reading Between the Lines

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As part of the Global Leadership Forecast 2014|2015, 1,528 HR executives responded helping to define the current focus of their Human Resource development programs and identifying the most critical skills leaders need to be successful over the next three years (the future).

Survey of top leadership Skills-Reading Between the Lines 2

The named qualities above can be broken down into combinations of characteristics and abilities. But the big question is: What is the right combination of those “sub characteristics” and how can they be measured in a meaningful way. Indeed, do certain qualities work better in different circumstances? For example, does a manufacturing company require a different personality type than that of a consulting or design company? In other words, perhaps rated leadership qualities should be tested vertically and not across industries?

As you review the “expanded ratings below, try to do your own break-down of what the underlying abilities and “IQ” categories you thing are required to better describe those characteristics.

Communicating and Interacting with others 74%

Schmooze factor and ability to come off as sincere. Charismatic, well-spoken and attractive physical appearance

Building Consensus and commitment 67%

Ability to read people and know what motivates them.

Coaching and developing others 63%

Empathy and a true desire to help others succeed.

Managing and successfully introducing change 62%

Self-confident and ability to take responsibility and be held accountable for decisions.

Developing strong partnership networks 61%

Political and financial savvy as well as understanding the motivations of others. Ability to share the spotlight with others.

Identifying and developing future talent 61%

Effective delegator and observant of strengths and weaknesses of others. Desire to help others.

Inspiring others toward a challenging future vision 58%

Visionary and passionate about the future in a positive way.

Fostering employee creativity and innovation 56%

Ability to read people and understand what motivates them. Provide encouragement and a positive attitude toward failure….just getting closer to the solution.

Leading across generations 54%

Being able to communicate with a broad range of personalities, cultures and understanding various points of view.

Integrating into foreign environments 45%

Open minded and flexible. Takes the time to try to understand the nuances of other cultures and languages

Intercultural Communications 39%

Takes the time to try to understand the nuances of other cultures and languages. Ability to communicate to a wide range of personalities and interests

Leading across countries and cultures 34%

Takes the time to try to understand the nuances of other cultures and languages. Ability to communicate to a wide range of personalities and interests

Personality and character need to be observed over time and a broad range of circumstances. Given the high rates of turnover from top to bottom in most of today’s organizations, a resume and cherry picked letters of recommendations are most likely insufficient but better than nothing. Moreover, subconscious predispositions and impressions can carry more weight than we would like. So, when it comes to the analysis of individuals, perhaps the best hedge to error and uncertainty is drawing data and subjective input from a broad range of sources-close and far away from direct contact.

When designing a program for leadership development, it makes good sense to include the trainees in developing a “Leadership Qualities Gap Analysis.” Getting buy-in about self-admitted strengths and weaknesses is a good test in itself and an excellent starting point for training. However, there is little doubt that certain leadership qualities come more naturally to some than others. Indeed, most individuals are flawed in some respects but this should not detract from the total package.  In fact, a leader who knows his or her weaknesses and how to counter them is probably more acceptable than the perfect leadership profile.


Additional Reading

Why The Best Leaders View Vulnerability as a Strength

Evolution In Leadership: A Discussion with Shawne Duperon


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