Leaders don't listen, don't manage and don't have a clear vision

Jun 19 2006 by Nic Paton Print This Article

The biggest mistake business leaders make is not communicating with or listening to their workforce, new research has suggested.

The study of more than 1,400 leaders and managers by global consultancy the Ken Blanchard Group, found 41 per cent felt inappropriate use of communication or listening was the biggest mistake leaders made when working with others.

More than a quarter felt the major failing was in under or over-supervising people, providing a lack of, or too much, direction and delegating, either too little or too much.

A lack of management skills was cited by 14 per cent, a lack of or inappropriate support by 12 per cent and a lack of accountability by 5 per cent.

Conversely, the most critical skill a leader could possess was communicating and listening (cited by 43 per cent), followed by effective management skills, emotional intelligence and empathy, values and integrity, vision and empowerment.

Of the top five things leaders and managers failed to do when working with others, the one that came up the most was not providing appropriate feedback (cited a whopping 82 per cent).

Failing to listen or involve others in the process was nearly as big a failing, cited by 81 per cent.

More than three quarters raised failing to use a leadership style that was appropriate to that person, task or situation, and a similar percentage (76 per cent) felt leaders failed to set clear goals and objectives.

Nearly six out of 10 complained that leaders failed to train and develop their people.

Jim O''Brien, managing director of the Blanchard Group Companies, said the biggest concern from the research was that these were very basic errors, which no leader should really be making.

"It seems that many leaders out there do not have even the most basic, critical leadership skills they need to do their job properly and this is bad news for business," he said.

"We all know leaders hold the key to organisational success. Bad leadership leads, ultimately, to low organisational vitality, high staff turnover and poor customer loyalty," he added.