The KRI’s 2010 WorkTrends research report, entitled Exploring Leadership and Managerial Effectiveness, identifies what ‘followers’ want from their leaders and managers and it includes a global ranking of leadership effectiveness, showing which countries and industry sectors have the highest-rated leaders.
Developed from a survey of more than 29,000 employees in 21 countries, it identifies the key priorities for leadership development and gives practical advice on how leaders can improve their effectiveness, build trust, open up lines of communication, collect and use employee ideas, lead fairly and solve problems quickly.
The UK Leadership Effectiveness Index score (47%) lags a notable 25 percentage points behind India’s score (72%) and is below the global average score of 55%.
The study shows, in the UK, effective leaders are mostly found in the manufacturing, healthcare and retail sectors. Government and financial services have the lowest rankings of leadership effectiveness
The study identifies ten drivers of effective leadership - the characteristics that followers look for in their leaders. These include the ability to inspire trust and confidence; to value quality and customer service; to be open and communicative; to have a multi-stakeholder perspective, and to hold lower-level managers accountable for being ‘good managers’.
As part of the study, KRI created and applied a Leadership Effectiveness Index, which measures the extent to which employees believe their leaders communicate their vision, handle challenges, value employees, are committed to improving quality and inspire trust. According to this Index, India and China have the world’s most effective leaders.
Jack Wiley, executive director of the Kenexa Research Institute, said: "We all want the same things from our leaders. According to our ranking, UK leaders lag behind in displaying the necessary characteristics and behaviours. For their own effectiveness - and for the sake of their organisations and the economy - UK leaders should look in the mirror, evaluate their own practices and commit to personal improvement. At the same time, UK organisations should review the approaches they use to recruit and develop their leaders.
"Great leadership is clearly evident in certain industry sectors. The low-ranking sectors should be looking at what the higher ranking sectors are doing in terms of recruiting and developing their leadership talent. There are lessons to be learned there."
The research also identifies the key priorities for leadership development. The two most significant are the need to build leadership trust and the need to engage in open, honest, two-way communication.
"The abilities to inspire trust and to remain trustworthy are essential qualities for any leader," said Jack Wiley. "We found that certain actions and behaviours are important for developing leadership trust. These include working ethically and with integrity, supporting whistleblowers, ‘walking the walk’ and ‘giving credit where it is due’. There’s also a need to communicate openly, to listen and to remain approachable. Direct reports need to feel safe enough to tell their leader the truth."
As well as focusing on leadership, Kenexa has also created a Managerial Effectiveness Index, which measures aspects such as a manager’s performance, their people and work management skills and whether they are trustworthy and inspirational. The results show that, according to employees, the most effective managers are those who are fair, communicative and involving, act as problem-solvers, provide recognition for a job well done, support employee growth and development and in general demonstrate an employee orientation.