Gallup is one of my favorite sources of research around the issues of employee engagement and leadership. I was going through their recent study on the state of the North American manager (read leader) and a number they shared stood out in stark contrast. One. That is the number out of every ten leaders who actually have the skills (they call it talent) to do an excellent job leading.
Companies are not getting it right.
If you are like me this number is startling. One of every ten managers have the skills to do excellent leadership and two of every ten have the skills to lead at a reasonable level. What’s more the same study found that companies on average failed to find the right candidate for their leadership positions a whopping 82% of the time. This actually comes as no surprise as we have seen for some time the trend to hire for hard skills not manager/leadership skills. To quote the Gallup report:
"They base hiring and promotion decisions on individuals’ past experience or tenure, or they give them the manager job as a “reward” for their performance in a completely separate role. These organizations overlook talent, and when they do, they lose. They spend needless time and energy trying to fit square pegs into round holes. Their managers are not engaged – or worse, are actively disengaged – and through their impact, Gallup estimates that these managers cost the U.S. economy $319 billion to $398 billion annually." (Gallup, State of the American Manager)
One would be tempted to take a fairly narrow view of this report and at first blush they paint a pretty bleak picture. But I see it differently. This is what I would describe as a classic "opportunity"! In my work an opportunity is simply a challenge or a problem seen from a different perspective. I look at these numbers and ask myself the question; If companies get the productivity they have with just 1/10 of their leadership imagine what they could do with 5/10 or 9/10? I see that $300 billion as a ripe ocean of profit just waiting for the right company to dive into it.
Your talent is there, you just need to find it.
Why you ask? Because the talents or skills that Gallup speaks to is something I believe leaders can master. The fact that they haven't to date is really only an indicator of not having recognized the need. It is in fact why I do what I do because I am certain that every organization can develop and mentor these skills for all their leadership team - I have seen it first hand and it is incredible!
When, in terms of performance, your team moves from a mid-range, fair to middling group of oil and gas service providers to cutting edge industry leaders in just a short span of time you better believe it is because the managers and leaders found the skills to drive that kind of performance. I believe that our companies and industries have not yet reached their full potential in terms of performance and leadership.
If Gallup is to be taken at face value, and what we have is due to the power of that one excellent leader out of every ten, can you imagine if you had more than that? Performance Leadership - Think About It!