The Center for Creative Leadership just issued a news release with the headline: “Do Tomorrow’s Leaders Have What It Takes? Research Says No.” The release includes a link to a CCL report titled “The Leadership Gap.”
The report is the usual quality CCL work. They surveyed 2200 leaders from 15 organizations in three countries between 2006 and 2008. They asked the respondents about the importance of 20 leadership competencies as defined in the CCL Benchmarks tool.
The report is interesting. It describes the leadership competencies that respondents think will be important five years in the future.
I had my usual problem with that approach. When it comes to leadership development, I agree with what Jamie Dimon said about strategy. “At JP Morgan, we try to prepare for all kinds of weather. We don’t guess what the weather will be and prepare for that.”
In other words, prepare leaders to meet whatever future arrives. Don’t try to guess what it will be and prepare for that one.
That’s why I wasn’t interested in what CCL thinks are the competencies that need to be developed for the world just over the next hill. But I was fascinated by their lists of what will and won’t be important. Here’s the list, from page 10.
The following were “not important.”
- “Building and mending relationships
- Compassion and sensitivity
- Culturally adaptable
- Respecting individual differences
- Confronting people
- Putting people at ease
- Managing one’s career”
The “important” list includes “leading people” and “inspiring commitment.” Those two are among the competencies that the respondents thought they were not good at. Maybe there wouldn’t be a gap on those competencies if they thought things like “building and maintaining relationships” were important.
Boss’s Bottom Line
Surveys like this can be fun to read, but you don’t have the luxury of planning for a specific future. You and your team have to be ready for whatever future washes over the bow. Whatever it is, the key to success will involve people and people skills.
I agree with your commentary Wally. IMRHO – CCL draws the wrong conclusion and may have asked the wrong questions. Many of the items on the “Not important” list support the items on the “Important” list. I’m not sure how one “leads people” without being able to “build relationships”, unless of course the leader is so brilliant and visionary (Steve Jobs) that people follow despite poor people skills. Most leaders however, are simply not so brilliant or visionary, and need to be relationship builders.