Are our business leaders really this bad?

A recent survey provided the following stats:

  • 1 in 4 leaders have a destructive approach to management
  • 47% of employees feel threatened by their leaders
  • Just 15% of the workforce say their leader is interested in how they feel
  • Only one-third of leaders are self-aware
  • 24% said the leader of their current organisation was entirely “brain-fried”.

Is it just me or does this feel pretty damning? Sometimes I wonder if employees and society generally have such enormous expectations of their bosses that leaders are in effect being set up to fail.

How many employees truly understand the pressures leaders are under? In respect of cash flow, achievement of targets, competitor activity, stock market activity, balancing the differing needs of the business etc.  Very, very few in reality, yet day after day they sit in judgement of their leaders and seldom worry about leaders’ sensibilities when passing their judgement.

So is there learning for leaders from statistics like these, or does it feel like a mountain too high to climb?

But interpreting some of these statistics slightly differently, if you consider for example that leaders show interest in how their staff feel for 15% of the time, is there an argument to be had that that is about right for a leader with multiple responsibilities?

And thinking about 47% of staff feeling threatened by their leader, is this true, or do staff sometimes feel threatened just because their leader is in a position of power to be able to threaten them (e.g. with redundancy, performance management) should the need arise? How many staff actually distinguish between fear of threat and real threat?

I am of course a firm believer in the need for all of us to continually develop our strengths, skills and self awareness as we progress through our careers, so statistics like these are great for making us think and reflect. However, constant criticism and trying to live up to the excessive expectations of some of our more demanding staff can surely not be good for anyone?

47% staff say they feel threatened by their leaders. 24% say their CEO is ‘brain-fried’. Read other stats.

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