Bosses need to show their human side

Workers see communication, motivation and integrity as key skills in a leader. As long as they remember to demonstrate these traits...

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 23 Aug 2011
When asked what traits are needed to lead a successful business, UK workers cited good old people skills like good communication, the ability to motivate, and integrity. Trouble is, the majority of bosses seem to have fallen short.

Research from consultancy Korn/Ferry Whitehead Mann found that good communication is the quality most commonly associated with being an effective leader, but only 21% of workers reckon their boss is any good at it. The ability to motivate staff came second, but only 13% of employees think their boss qualified there. Meanwhile only 14% think their boss has integrity, while 9% of employees see their organisation’s leader as inspirational.

So what’s going wrong? Is it that we’re pushing the wrong people into such responsible roles without first ensuring they’re up to the task? Perhaps not – according to Korn/Ferry it’s just that these people are demonstrating their skills in the wrong direction. MD Tony Vardy reckons that ‘…some demonstrate these more effectively to shareholders or the media than to their employees’. In the current climate is perhaps understandable, even if it is short-sighted.
And in the case of the media at least it may even be counter-productive: 29% of employees say the way their bosses are portrayed in the media diminishes their reputation, compared to just 10% who think it enhances it.

As Vardy points out, workers may have simply picked out these traits as they’re the ones that directly affect them – it’s a lot easier to judge your boss’s ability to motivate or communicate than it is to assess how good they are at less tangible strategic decisions. But it looks like they need to do something: 37% reckon Alan Sugar would do a better job of running their business than their boss. If that’s not a rallying cry to connect more effectively with your team, we don’t know what is.

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