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How Are 25,000 Leaders Similar, and Why Do We Care?

Source | Center For Creative Leadership

“People Are People” is a hit album released by Depeche Mode in the 80s. So what does an album recorded during the Cold War have to do leadership? More than you might think.

If you’ve been following our global trend research reports over the past few months, you’ve probably noticed great similarities among leaders around the globe. The data shows that “people are people” and “leaders are leaders,” regardless of where they live and work.

Each trend report draws on insights from a database of more than 25,000 leaders who have used our flagship 360° assessment tool Benchmarks® for Managers. After analyzing the data, we’ve found that most bosses globally share similar beliefs about what competencies are most important to the success of their business. They also share similar insights on the strengths of their leaders and on which capabilities need to be further developed.

It is a similar finding to our research on the challenges that leaders face around the world.

Through creating these Global Trend Reports, we’ve uncovered some overarching similarities. Here are a few insights on what these findings mean for leadership development:

1. Around the world, the same 6 competencies were rated most vital to leadership success.

Out of 16 competencies on CCL’s Benchmarks 360-degree assessment, the same 6 rose to the top in importance for the 4 regions and 7 countries around the world we examined:

  • Building collaborative relationships
  • Leading employees
  • Strategic perspective
  • Taking initiative
  • Participative management
  • Change management

INSIGHT: The most effective leadership development initiatives are designed around the competencies most critical to the success of an organization and its leaders. Based on the pervasive importance of these 6 competencies worldwide, HR and training teams would be well-advised to ensure they are tracking and building leader competencies in each of these 6 areas.

2. Leaders everywhere rate highest at “taking initiative.”

Among the top 6 most important competencies,1 all regions rate “taking initiative” as the most effective competency of their leaders. This confirms the well-known belief that the ability to get things done is what gets leaders promoted in the first place.

INSIGHT: A narrow focus on personal initiative can sometimes get in the way of organizational alignment. “Slowing down to speed up” is critical if leaders are to harness the entire organization for greater overall impact. Moving too fast – without buy-in and commitment from others – can lead to lower overall effectiveness and impact on the business.

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