Are We Facing a Crisis in Leadership?

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A survey by the World Economic Forum of 1,767 world leaders and experts in 2015 found that 86% of the respondents agreed that the world faced a “leadership crisis” and that a lack of leadership was the third most pressing global issue  behind deepening income inequality and persistent jobless growth, and ahead of such challenges as the weakening of democracy, rising pollution, and intensifying nationalism.

Are we really facing a leadership crisis though?  There are plenty of people in the world who are leading others – in business and in other organisations. Training and leadership development has been a huge growth industry and in 2014 companies worldwide spent USD 45 Billion on developing leaders.

So what is at the heart of this sense of a leadership crisis and what do we need to do to correct it?

I believe that the way that we think of leaders needs to change.  Old stereotypes of leadership: positions of authority, asserting power over others, usually male – don’t fit so well in a world where the skills required to lead well are more suited to collaboration, connecting, communicating, planning for the long term, keeping the common interest in mind and empowering others.

One area in which to examine the impact of the so-called crisis in leadership is in the global workforce. A January 2016 Gallup report stated that in a Worldwide study, only 13% of employees working for an organisation are engaged.  In the UK and the USA the figure is higher at around one third but that is still two thirds of employees who are disengaged at work.   Employees are disengaged at work for many reasons but one of the key factors is that people are not being led effectively.

So whilst billions of dollars are being spent annually on leadership training across the world this is not having the desired effect in the workplace or community.  It would seem that training in the class room is not focused on embedding the right skills required in reality.  Leadership training is focused on developing leadership skills and styles but misses the focus on what leaders are called to pursue, why, and who benefits. Leaders are not leading with passion, purpose and persuasion – three keys to leadership.

If you think about who you consider as great global leaders now and in the past, they all lead with passion.   You cannot lead effectively unless you love what you do and are charged up about the key aspects of your role.  If you are leading with passion you are motivated to succeed and this enthusiasm and drive for success rubs off on others.

Passion alone though this not enough.  Creating a clear vision and direction in the form of a plan, are essential components of being a good leader. Creating a sense of purpose for employees and understanding why you are doing this and who will benefit, will help to engage their hearts and encourage them to go above and beyond at work. Work becomes less about meeting basic needs (income) and more about higher needs, such as: feeling fulfilled, collaborating, making connections and making a difference to others.

By feeling a greater sense of purpose and personal growth in our work we become more engaged, perform better and earn higher incomes. In return, as we earn more this then allows us to worry less about our basic needs as these are being met and gives us more energy to focus even more on personal growth and meaningful contributions.

If passion and purpose inspire and engage, it is the ability of good leaders to persuade that encourages people to take action.   Being a good leader is less about having great leadership skills and more about being able to persuade others to take action towards achieving a common purpose or aim. To effectively persuade others to take the right actions you need to engage and find out what motivates them as individuals or as a group. As a good leader you can then set goals with individuals or a team, give them authority to take actions, measure how they are doing and celebrate their success.

It is by encouraging people to take the right actions towards a common purpose that more leaders will be moulded across all different levels, global issues will be resolved and great companies will be created.

Are you leading with passion, purpose and persuasion?  Could your staff be more engaged in your company?  Is it time to change the paradigm in your company about what defines good leadership?

Become part of the solution to the crisis in leadership and lead from the heart.  To find out more about how to impact your ability to lead or that of your senior management team contact me to discuss your company leadership requirements.

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