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Leadership Greatness in Today’s World, Who Shares the Accountability
The word LEADERSHIP has never been more prominent in our day-to-day lives.
Amazon advertises approximately 193,000 leadership books on its website
Leadership books are published at the rate of approximately four per day
A search of Google Scholar generates almost 4 million journal articles and books on leadership
Harvard, Stanford and some global surveys, suggest that 87% of leadership programs fail to transform the participants, individually or collectively, to adopt the new leadership culture that the program was designed to create.
Based on these figures, can you imagine how many leadership programs have been created and are run on a yearly basis?
In-the-midst of these huge numbers, we should ask ourselves why leadership effectiveness seems strangely muted, or almost absent, from the day-to-day culture of corporations and their executives. The term leadership has been thrown around so often that we have forgotten its true meaning, or more importantly, it has now become meaningless.
Business is a powerful social institution within our community, and one that has adopted the seductive lure of leadership as one of its stated core elements. Leadership has become a major driver of employee personal and professional development; however, many corporations have ignored its effectiveness.
Understandably, they are busy with the management of increasingly complex adaptive systems, but there is a growing concern that management techniques, no matter how disruptive their intent, glamorous their offerings, or simplistic their descriptions, are failing to deal with the complex adaptive world volatility, complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity.
In Australia, the Banking Royal Commission has lifted the management camouflage from the world of banking, financial planning and advice. A startled and increasingly angry public are now peeking inside, often through the filter of their own technical solutions, jostling with APRA, the media, investors and customers and the political left – pointing fingers and seeking “throats to choke”.
Despite all the leadership research, articles and knowledge available, there seems to be little evidence of leadership in the day-to-day workings of these major organisations. Certainly, there is minimal leadership when dealing with some core and tragic consequences of mismanagement and its key driver, short termism.
Typically, the leadership proposed in books and programs is predominantly value based, honest and purpose driven, and often based on the unwritten acceptance of “doing the right thing”, and strives for the best for all those touched by it. Yet, when we examine the dominant cultures of our most impactfull organisations, these core qualities are seriously lacking.
Leadership has become a well-worn and familiar topic of executive retreats across this country, dangling as a tempting carrot in front of senior executives, with the promise that it will somehow turn them into an executive hero, will create “followship”, or will magically create the necessary organisational change. Unfortunately, its true impact continues to be difficult to find. The magic seems to be more in the telling and the expectation, rather than the day-to-day effective impact.
As Executive coaches, we need to ask ourselves, where does responsibility for this failure of delivery and expectation lie? Certainly, it partly lies on senior executives and their leaders, who find it hard to create a level of accountability for their leadership effectiveness, mirroring the dynamics seen in elite sporting teams, where the blame falls on the players, and not the support staff.
The executive coaching industry has kept a very timid toe in the water of leadership accountability, while immersing itself completely in the magic of technical solutions. Executive coaches, who actively support the numerical addition to the word leadership in book titles, and who spend most of their time trying to incorporate ageing models to induce transformational change in otherwise busy executives, must assume some duty of care to their clients and community.
It is the executive coaching industry of which I am a member that has the skills, that has the knowledge, and now, I suggest, has both the accountability and responsibility to drive the change.
We should access our own leadership effectiveness and get to work.