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Does leadership matter? It does to me

Hello everyone, my name is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), co-founder of LeaderNation and I too will be blogging around issues germane to leadership.

Everywhere I look leadership appears to be a struggle. Whether we consider the current state of divisive domestic politics, the ethical tribulations of our sports heroes, or the economic struggles of businesses, we are often left with a bad taste in our mouths. Studies consistently show that half or more individuals at the helm fail to lead effectively.

  • A study of corporate executives over a 10-year period found that at least 50% are ineffective leader
  • A study of hospital leadership found the base rate for incompetent management to be 60%.
  • In a large aerospace organization the base rate for leadership failure was estimated at 50%.

(Source: W.W. Burke, Lecture “Leadership and Leadership Development: What We Know”, 2004)

Studies also consistently demonstrate that 65-75% of employees report that the worst and most stressful thing about their job is their immediate supervisor (Source: Hogan & Kaiser, Review of General Psychology, 2005). These results hold true across industries and across employment level, from the front-line to the C-suite. Common complaints include supervisors’ inabilities to make decisions and face conflict, and supervisors tyrannizing subordinates (i.e. “Manager supervises too closely,” “Treats me like I’m stupid”). So I know I’m not alone when I reveal that I’ve had some bad bosses over the years.

Fortunately there are also some positive signs out there. Research has also found that effective leadership is positively correlated with a leader’s self-awareness. It is my hope, through this blog and our work at LeaderNation to enhance people’s awareness of their strengths and weaknesses (we all have them) and equip them with tools such as 360 degree feedback to help them develop as leaders.

I know I’ll continue investing in my leadership capacity as I help build LeaderNation, and I hope you too will engage with this site as you continue to develop yourself as a leader. I look forward to reading your comments and I encourage you to share your personal experiences leading or following. We can learn a lot from watching others lead, good or bad. And if you come across any interesting research or articles please .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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Hello Yaron, this reminds me of the employee engagement research which consistently finds a strong correlation between employee engagement and the perceived competency of the unit manager or supervisor. This seems to be a point of vulnerability in many organizations and I find it most interesting in the 360 evaluation when the person focuses on managing up so upper management has a hard time believing when the employees rate the manager poorly.

I look forward to following the development of your blog!


Seventeen years ago, when I first took the MPPI and MBTI at a new job, I was excited by the potential for putting the right people into the right positions with the right co-workers: ultimately, the human-engineered company. We continue to make advances in refining testing and assessment but, as evidenced by the studies you reference, industry is still not using what is known.

Like the quality management practices that advanced Japanese industry ahead of the US (ironically, a post WWII, US-enforced program of reconstruction that US manufacturers refused to adopt)we appear to be leaving "the high road" to to our competition.

Which companies are utilizing "the high road"? They are the ones I WANT TO WORK WITH!

Thank you for your thoughtful comments Nancy and David. I am not familiar with employee engagement research Nancy so I found your recent post on your blog useful. If you had any references handy for our readers to followup that would be great.

David I share your passion in leveraging science to create organizations that are more 'human' and more effective. Just like it is difficult to find great leaders and mentors, it is also a challenge finding excellent forward-thinking organizations to work with. Perhaps someone knows an article that lists some of the best out there?

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