Feuding and Failure vs. Performance and Innovation

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A Study of Leadership in the Canadian Workplace

Psychometrics Canada
Our results show that leadership is influential, and organizations with effective leadership in place are realizing a wide range of benefits including increased financial performance and improved work relationships.

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Psychometrics Canada, a leading assessment publisher and consultant for the development and selection of people in business, government and education, today announced the results of its study of leadership in the Canadian workplace. In many cases strong leadership has resulted in dramatic effects on work engagement, team performance and innovation. However, the report also shows that poor leadership has negative effects on employee morale, project success and working relationships.

The study, which involved a poll of 517 human resources (HR) professionals across Canada, confirms that leadership is seen as an important area of organizational functioning and development. The majority (63.2%) see leaders as having a lot of influence over their organizations’ success, with only 2.5% reporting that leaders have very little influence. The most common effects of good leadership are increased motivation (85.5%), improved working relationships (85.1%), higher team performance (80.7%), better solutions to problems (68.9%), and major innovations (41.6%).

Leadership does have its downside, however. When not properly used, leadership can have negative effects. HR professionals have witnessed good people quitting and a lack of morale (91.7%), employees’ skills not being utilized (87.2%), feuding staff members (68.3%), and failed projects (60%). Three-quarters (76%) have also witnessed a disconnection between the organization’s goals and its employees’ work.

"These figures should be a strong alert to organizations that poor leadership could be causing them major problems,” said Shawn Bakker, psychologist at Psychometrics Canada. "Our results show that leadership is influential, and organizations with effective leadership in place are realizing a wide range of benefits including increased financial performance and improved work relationships."

When asked to rate the importance of various leadership skills to success, 90% of respondents reported that communication is critically important, followed by dealing with change (52.6%), managing people (48.2%), setting goals (37.5%), solving problems (30.3%), and project management (12%).

The study also uncovered a serious gap between the ratings of importance for these skills and leaders’ current level of effectiveness. Only 27.8% of respondents rated leaders’ communication skills as effective, even though nine out of 10 see communication as a critical skill. Twenty-four per cent of respondents indicated that the leaders they know are not effective when it comes to dealing with change.

Respondents cited a number of obstacles that get in the way of today’s leaders developing their skills. These include leaders not seeing the need for improvement (67.5%), not having enough time (63.1%), lacking support from superiors (50.1%), and having inadequate training budgets (41.6%).

Recommendations for Leaders

Recommendations for leaders to be more effective included talking less and listening more (81.4%), providing clear expectations (78.1%), having more informal interaction with staff (75.6%), clearly communicating how the organization plans to manage change (89.4%), assigning tasks to staff based on their skills rather than office politics (71.4%), holding people accountable (67.7%), giving employees more responsibility (64.6%), overcoming resistance to change (48%), and deferring to people with greater expertise (63.1%).

“What surprised me from our research was that, even with the understanding that leadership is key for organizational success, the leaders themselves were not actively pursuing their own development -- despite the opportunities available,” said Mark Fitzsimmons, president of Psychometrics Canada.

To read the complete report, visit http://www.psychometrics.com/docs/leadership.pdf .

For more information, contact
Shawn Bakker, Psychologist, Psychometrics Canada; 7125 77 Ave, Edmonton, AB T6B 0B5; 800-661-5158 ext. 238; sbakker(at)psychometrics(dot)com; http://www.psychometrics.com

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Shawn Bakker
Psychometrics Canada
800-661-5158 ext. 238
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