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Media Futures recently interviewed Suzanne Salter on the subject of –
“ The State of Leadership Today ”
Here’s a snap shot summary of what Suzanne had to say –
1. Question : At what standard is the quality of leadership today?
Response: For the Australian market and looking at recent reports that have come out, and referring in particular to the Towers 2014 Global Workforce Study, it shows that the Australian workforce is quite disengaged, one of the most disengaged in the world actually. For the first time, the study shows that the root cause of the disengagement is the poor quality of leadership, in particular the inability to provide a clear strategic direction.
This study was conducted with 32,000 people worldwide and over 1,000 in Australia. So there is definitely room to improve.
2. Question : Has the social and digital revolution overtaken individual leaders ?
Response: ‘Overtaken’ might be a bit of a tricky term. I think social and digital media can be a tool. The mandate of the leader is to get workers to follow the leader from A to B. The leader tells stakeholders where we are going, why we are going and letting people know what their roles are in this journey. Effective communication is quite important and the social and digital revolution is a means to facilitate that. I suppose where it is tricky with social and digital media is that you don’t fully control it. It’s something that can go in two ways, it can make the role easier if the communication is done well. If the leader receives criticism he/she can combat that online. If the communication is poor and things get out of control then the sentiment can go against the leader via social and digital media. In this case the leader can be overtaken.
3. Question : Is Ego still the biggest barrier to leadership ?
Response: I would say it is really. Jim Collins has a really good model about different ‘levels’ of leadership based on his research into companies who sustainably out performed peers. He found companies which consistently outperformed had leaders with lots of humility. He called this the ‘Level 5’ leader. To be humble infers that your ego is small if not absent. This support the expression: ‘There is no I in team.’ It’s not about the individual, it’s about the vision of the company, the purpose and the cause of what the company’s trying to achieve. Very often you will see ego or there’s a high degree of narcissism, this can be confused with the traits of a leader. Where does charisma end and when does self absorption start? It is a grey boundary between what is desirable for a leader and what’s undesirable. Ego is still very prevalent in lots of leadership positions in business and probaly in politics as well.
4. Question: In this disruptive era how do we align people behind common goals?
Response: People want to derive meaning from what they are doing. It’s a key psychological driver behind self-motivation. People have to believe that what they are doing is worthwhile. Now that everyone is not necessarily making money (or as much) post GFC or money is not delivering the expected happiness, we are seeing a resurgence in things such as meaning, purpose and values. So we have to be quite strong. The leader has to walk the talk. You can’t have “ Do as I say” and not “As I do”. Once they get that mix right, you can align people behind common goals. What’s more, companies with a clear purpose outperform those who don’t.
Customers buy ‘the why’ of a service or product. Why is that company in business ? Because more broadly, people need to have meaning behind what they are doing. Sothese aspects need to be quite coherent and and visible to achieve alignment.
Media Futures undertook this interview as an update on current trends and thinking. The aim is to be more predictive and how that effects the future. The payback to companies, organisations and advertisers is to be more precise in how they go to market and be able to operate more effectively.
Contents copyright Media Futures 2016