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Is There a Crisis of Leadership?

Developing Well-Equipped Leaders (July 29, 2020)

Is There a Crisis of Leadership? Developing Well-Equipped Leaders
“A typical crisis plays out . . .”

Crises are not new to our world, to our countries, or to our organisations. Real-world crises produce rapidly changing conditions and upheavals that leaders need to respond to, recover from, and thrive in for future organisational success.

An unsettling statistic from Gartner’s early 2019 survey reveals that half of organisational leaders say they aren’t well equipped to lead their organisations in the future. Put another way, with the future certain to hold some kind of change or tumult, 50% of leaders feel ill equipped to handle it.

Are we facing a situation in which we have a critical mass of current and next-generation leaders who are not well equipped to lead organisations in the future? If that is true, might the next crisis we face be a crisis of leadership?

This prompts the question:

What qualifies as a leader who is well equipped for an uncertain future?

Consciously Competent Leaders

At Wilson Learning, our view of a well-equipped leader is someone who possesses both clarity (the “know how to” of essential leadership skills) and grounding (the “know why” of the skills’ importance and impact). Those well equipped with clarity and grounding are leaders who are Consciously Competent—they are good leaders, and they understand what makes them good leaders.

As conditions change, consciously competent leaders have the ability to assess the situation and adjust or adapt as needed. This heightened leadership agility and flexibility to respond to change is urgently needed in today’s environment when priorities shift and organisations must pivot to respond and recover.

Unfortunately, most leadership development efforts are geared to develop leaders only to level 3; Unconscious Competence. That is, there is a focus on teaching new leaders the skills necessary for effective leadership (clarity), but not taking that next step to ensure grounding, appreciating the “why” of leadership. As a result, leaders are effective when conditions are normal, but when there are major disruptions or crises, these leaders fail to adapt.

What is needed are new approaches to leadership development that focus on the “what” and the “why” of leadership.

Essential Leadership Capabilities

Ultimately, preparing leaders for the uncertain and ever-changing world requires development of both Leadership Character and Essential Leadership Skills.

Developing Leadership Character

Great execution of leadership skills rings hollow to both the employee and the leader if leadership character development is overlooked.

Recent research shows that high-performing organisations focus their development of leadership character on elements like integrity, empowerment of others, nurturing others’ growth and development, and empathy. These take on even greater importance when leaders are now tasked to thrive in disruption and an uncertain future.

Essential Leadership Skills

What are the leadership skills needed today for those leading forward from a new place?

Foundational leadership skills, such as coaching others, communication skills, and performance management, need to be executed in the context of current and future remote work environments. For some leaders who traditionally manage their talent with face-to-face access, these foundational skills may need refashioning to be most effectively executed. People skills, like influencing and motivating others, are a priority as the landscape of work evolves.>

If 50% of leaders say they are well equipped to lead the organisation in the future, what about the other 50%? Where do your leaders land on the “Clarity” and “Grounding” axes?

Are you providing them the extra help needed to support their growth and development to become Consciously Competent leaders, well equipped to lead your organisation in the future with both strong skills and leadership character?

To learn more about how to advance leadership character throughout your organisation, contact Wilson Learning.

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About the Authors
Tom Roth

Tom Roth

Tom Roth is Chief Operating Officer of Wilson Learning Worldwide and President of Wilson Learning Japan. With more than 40 years of experience developing and implementing human performance improvement solutions, Mr. Roth is responsible for the strategic direction and business performance of Wilson Learning Worldwide operations. In addition, he leads the global marketing services and R&D solutions group, which is responsible for the research and development of all solutions and position papers. Mr. Roth assists global executive leadership teams with issues related to employee engagement, leadership development, strategy alignment, and business transformation. Before assuming his current role, he was President of the global R&D and solution development groups and also served as President of Wilson Learning Americas.

Mr. Roth has extensive experience developing and implementing human performance improvement solutions. He is coauthor of the book Unplugged: How Organisations Lose Their Energy and How to Get It Back, coauthor of the book Creating the High-Performance Team, and is published in numerous business publications. Mr. Roth is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences and client events, presenting on a wide variety of issues including leadership, employee engagement, change, and strategy implementation.

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Michael Leimbach

Michael Leimbach

Michael Leimbach, Ph.D., is a globally recognised expert in instructional design and sales development, sharing his message that it is not about what you learn but what you use. His approach has been adopted by numerous Global 1000 organisations in Australia, England, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and throughout the United States. Dr. Leimbach is Vice President of Global Research and Development for Wilson Learning Worldwide. With more than 25 years in the field, he provides leadership for researching and designing Wilson Learning’s diagnostic, learning, and performance improvement capabilities. He has managed major research studies in sales, leadership, and organisational effectiveness. Dr. Leimbach also developed Wilson Learning’s impact evaluation capability and return on investment models. He has served as a research consultant for a wide variety of global client organisations, is the Editor-in-Chief of the Advances in Developing Human Resources professional journal, and serves on the ISO Technical Committee on Quality Standards for Learning Service Providers. Dr. Leimbach has authored six books, published numerous professional articles, and is a frequent speaker at national and global conferences.

Read more by Michael Leimbach