Leaders and managers lacking crisis evasion skills

Three quarters (73%) of employees said they believe that their company’s leadership has been lacking during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to new research Leading through challenging times from education management company ILM, a City & Guilds Group business, leaders and managers have not provided teams with enough support during times of crisis.

The research found that leaders and managers are most likely to fall short on softer skills such as empowering and motivating teams (36%), and empathy and emotional intelligence (31%).

The data suggested that a lack of these skills could potentially impact workforce motivation and performance.

David Phillips, managing director of City & Guilds and ILM, said that strong leadership and management is critical for businesses, not only in times of crisis but in a long recovery process.

He said: “This year, firms have faced unprecedented circumstances and have had to make some very difficult decisions – putting their leadership and management skills to the test.

“But this isn’t the end of the challenges that businesses will face over the next few years, so it’s important we act now to better equip our leaders and managers for the future.”

The research revealed that the leadership skills most important to employees were also the ones they felt their managers needed to work on, these were - people management (68%), communication (48%) and building relationships and interpersonal skills (48%).

Phillips added: “With further uncertainty and change on the horizon thanks to tough economic conditions and a messy Brexit, the businesses that succeed will be the ones that have leaders and managers who can guide their teams to respond, adapt and change to whatever the future throws at them.”

In addition to embedding core leadership and management skills throughout an organisation, the report recommended businesses offer career development and nurture talent pipelines to ensure they are fit for the future.

It called on the government to invest more in building confidence between managers and their teams, and better engage with employers, and said that empowered, independent, well led teams would be critical as remote working becomes the ‘new normal’.

It also recommended that employers consider training in softer management skills, ensuring colleagues feel empowered to make decisions during challenging circumstances.

The research surveyed over 3,500 UK professionals on their experiences of management and leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic in October 2020.

Further reading:

Maintaining engagement in a post-COVID workplace

Building critical skills is HR leaders’ priority for 2021

A critical mission in a time of crisis at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine