Knowledge centre

Are you leading at the speed of now?

According to a recent survey of more than 6,000 people in 12 countries regarding effective leadership and communication – and the intrinsic link between the two – the world is demanding leadership at the speed of now.

Not surprisingly, the current global volatility and rapid change means that situations and opportunities are often outpacing the speed of communication, forward thinking and leadership response in today’s organisations.

The fourth annual survey – the Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor – clearly identifies two key trends in leadership:

  1. The culture of Title-less Leadership is on the rise; the era of control and command and hierarchical leadership is fading. People are looking to employees for leadership; by a wide margin, people say they are looking for organisations that enable, empower and demonstrate leadership at all levels and in every corner.
  1. A swing back to male leadership as a preference; Where the same survey in 2014 touted the rise of feminine leadership traits (with female leaders out ranking their male counterparts in five out of the seven metrics of effective leadership), the 2015 survey has shown a strong swing back to male leadership in navigating the current climate.

Title-less Leadership

According to the Monitor, 41 percent of respondents believe leadership should come mainly from the organisation and all its employees, compared with 25 percent that believe leadership should come just from the CEO. This aligns with three years of data pointing to the demise of the CEO-as-celebrity style of leadership and highlights a greater-than-ever opportunity for a “leadership by all” collaborative culture.

“Title-less Leader” supports the notion of shared leadership at all levels of an organisation.  This emerging preference for leadership by many, as well as confidence in leadership from unexpected sources, comes at a time when disillusionment in senior, appointed leaders is high; only one in four (24 percent) of those surveyed believe leaders are effective.

And when you consider the top five traits of an effective leader, none belong solely to the C-suite.  Anyone in an organisation can demonstrate them, if enabled and empowered to do so.

Top five traits of an effective leader:

  1. leading by example (63 percent)
  2. communicating in an open and transparent way (61 percent)
  3. admitting mistakes (59 percent)
  4. bringing out the best in others (58 percent)
  5. handling controversial issues or crises calmly and confidently (58 percent)

The Swinging Gender Pendulum

The 2014 survey identified ‘feminine’ leadership communication as the way of the future and suggested the end of the ‘macho’ style in senior ranks. These results were consistent with a 2013 survey of 64,000 people in 13 countries which found 66 percent of adults agreed that “the world would be a better place if men thought more like women” – including 63 percent of men worldwide.

This year’s Monitor however, sees a strong swing of the pendulum toward male leaders.  Whilst 54 percent of global consumers saw male leaders as most likely to navigate the world through challenging and rapidly changing times over the next five years in the 2014 survey, this number increased to 61 percent in 2015.  Respondents cite male leaders as more likely than female leaders to achieve this, representing a seven-point increase in one year.

Despite this, female leaders were judged to best demonstrate three of the top five traits of an effective leader: communicating openly and transparently, admitting mistakes, and bringing out the best in others.

Questions for you:

As we start the new year, the findings prompt a number of questions to shape your 2016 strategy and focus:

  • How do the above findings correlate with your own observations, and within your own organisation?
  • What are you doing to foster leadership throughout your organisation? What are you doing to demonstrate these effective leadership traits?
  • Are you focussing the majority of your communication resources across all levels of your organisation?
  • Are you leveraging the significant power of your employees and media platforms to authentically show who you are and what you believe in as an organisation?
  • How are you listening to customers, suppliers and employees to enable rapid decision making and responses?
  • Has your organisation established the goodwill needed for your leadership, organisation and brand to be well-received in a time of crisis?

To access the executive summary of the 2015 Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor, click here.