Business leaders get results, says "shock" poll

Feb 18 2005 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Not all business leaders are David Brent figures of fun, a new survey has suggested.

Against the expectations handed down to us by Slough’s finest manager – as well as many other surveys pointing to increasingly cynicism and distrust of business leaders - bosses ranging from directors to project managers are in fact rated highly by colleagues, according to the Work Foundation.

The survey, carried out for the foundation’s Campaign for Leadership as part of its Leadership Week next week, asked some 9,000 people to rate their leaders on 38 measures that defined leadership.

Measures of honesty, integrity and delivery were ranked highest while skills relying on empathy and awareness of colleagues were ranked lowest.

Nine out of 10 of those surveyed felt that their leader was “honest and truthful”, closely followed by “not taking credit for other people’s work”, and “accepting responsibility for the actions of their staff”.

Yet 87 per cent of those surveyed also felt their leader “achieved results”.

Where leaders fell down, however, was in that they were less good when it came to skills that required empathy.

"Recognising and acting to minimise other people’s stress” was ranked lowest and not far behind was “regularly communicating an inspirational view of the future”, “actively encouraging feedback on their own performance” and “consulting those affected by a decision”.

British leaders came across as a self-depreciating bunch, too. Asked to rank themselves over the same measures, leaders always rated themselves lower than did their colleagues.

Interestingly, women were ranked more highly than men, although the division was close.

Ian Lawson, chief executive of the Campaign for Leadership, said: “While there is talk of confidence in our public leaders being eroded, at a day-to-day level, the truth is very different.

"People actually rate their organisational leaders very highly, although there is still room for improvement. High performance organisations understand that effective leadership creates competitive advantage.”