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Business leaders unable to collaborate effectively


A third of HR executives (32%) say they would replace members of their leadership team at the first opportunity, a survey by global member-based advisory company CEB has found.

The survey revealed that almost three-quarters (71%) believe the leaders in their company will not be able to adapt to major shifts in the market or economic environment. The reason cited by CEB is leaders being unable to collaborate effectively.

“When we look at the data what we find is that leaders are not against the idea of working more collaboratively. However, it is the systems we have created that actually encourage them not to do it in many cases,” said Brian Kropp, executive director at CEB.

“Across a leader’s career, the ones that are more likely to get promoted are those that have done their individual tasks well. This reality is repeated during a rising leader’s career and it reinforces that this is the right way to get ahead.”

Kropp added that the way leaders are rewarded for achieving individual goals, through bonuses and raises for example, encourages this way of working.

He said that HR should carefully consider ways of helping leaders change this behaviour. “Leaders tend to be very proud and opinionated people, who are convinced that their approach is right. Simply telling leaders that they have to work differently isn't effective – they don’t respond to being told what to do,” he said.

“Instead organisations should design their training programmes in ways that help leaders self-realise that they need to work differently.” 

Kropp confirmed that the inability of leaders to collaborate is highly detrimental to a business’s success. 

“We find that organisations that are not able to create more effective leaders not only miss out in the short run – they grow at a slower rate and are less profitable – they also struggle in the long run as they are 23% less innovative and 15% less adaptable to changing business situations.”