Leadership competencies under scrutiny

This week’s blog was prompted by an article I read in the Harvard Business Review.

At Jaluch, we do a lot of work with leaders and deliver many leadership programmes and whilst we often talk about a need to review the leadership competencies that many of our clients use, we rarely see major change in this area.

Traditionally, the leadership competency documents we see include strategic vision; influence, drive, impact, problem solving, and communication. But what is required of leaders today, is different to what was required of leaders pre 2008. Additionally, I believe that by 2020 even more change will have taken place.

2013 and 2014 should be a time of radical change in your HR Departments and the way you manage your staff. Globally, things are changing fast both economically and socially and your HR practices and policies need to keep up if you are to stay competitive. Too many are being left way behind due to both complacency and a belief that HR is nothing more than an overhead. This is a short extract from the Harvard Business Review article I mentioned above. If you have time I suggest you read the whole article.

“We have the dynamics of a new economy colliding with the old establishment like tectonic plates. But as developed nations restructure from manufacturing to knowledge and services, my bet is on … women — and men who can think like them. Survey data … gathered from 64,000 people in nationally representative samples in 13 countries — from the Americas and Europe to Asia — point to widespread dissatisfaction with typically “male” ways of doing business and a growing appreciation for the traits, skills and competencies that are perceived as more feminine.  Stats include majorities of men who equate masculine incumbency with income disparity, continuing high levels of unemployment and political gridlock.”

After asking a survey sample of 32,000 people, about 125 different human characteristics, the following 10 came out as the competencies expected in modern leaders:

  1. Expressive
  2. Plans for future
  3. Decisive
  4. Reasonable
  5. Loyal
  6. Flexible
  7. Patient
  8. Resilient
  9. Intuitive
  10. Collaborative

Of these, only decisiveness and resilience are considered as masculine traits; the other 8 are considered as more feminine traits.

How about you compare this list of 10 to what you have in your current leadership competency list, to see where the differences lie?

Given this research, which is in fact mostly consistent with other research I have read in the past 12 months, I have three challenging questions:

  1. If you replaced your current required competencies for leaders with this list, would you have a problem in respect of who makes up your current leadership team? How much of a problem?
  2. If you presented this list (alongside the fact that only two of these are considered to be masculine traits) to your current leaders, can you name three within the leadership team who would dismiss it instantly, or otherwise be extremely scathing of it?.
  3. If your business leaders do not accept these as the required leadership competencies of the future, what reassurances can they give you that they really understand what it will take to successfully lead your organisation over the next 5-10 years?

I know that change is tough and I know that none of us like to feel as though either we or a close colleague have become the blocker of change in the organisation, but the time has come when tough decisions have got to be made before irreparable damage is done.

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