We must find a way to bridge the leadership gap.
Leadership is critical to any successful organisation, and developing influential leaders is essential for long-term success.
But there’s a simple solution:
By appointing fewer leaders and allowing good leaders to lead bigger groups, organisations can streamline decision-making processes, reduce bureaucracy, and promote the growth and development of their most effective employees.
Here we go:
Not Enough Leaders To Go Around
Leadership is a crucial component of any successful organisation. It drives innovation, fosters collaboration, and inspires employees to achieve their best results. However, finding and training influential leaders can be a significant challenge for many organisations.
A Gallup study examining corporate leadership and management found that only 10% of employees are natural leaders. Furthermore, the study found that an additional 20% of employees could become good leaders with the proper guidance and training. 1Gallup: Only One in Ten Possess the Talent To Manage (2015).
The good news is that these findings suggest that, while leadership abilities are not innate, they can be developed with the proper support.
The bad news? Roughly 70% of the workforce shouldn’t be considered leadership material. No wonder 8 out of 10 businesses report that leadership is lacking. 2Zippia: 36 Powerful Leadership Statistics: Things All Aspiring Leaders Should Know (2023).
The Leadership Gap in Organisations
This natural shortage of capable leaders hasn’t stopped the corporate world from appointing leaders left and right. As a consultant, I more often than not encounter organisations where one person does the work that four managers tell them to do.
Please note that I’m not talking about CEOs:s here. I’m talking about anyone to who an organisation has granted authority over others. I’m talking, of course, about the seemingly ever-expanding sphere of middle managers.
One of the critical issues contributing to the leadership gap is the tendency for corporations to appoint too many middle managers.
No wonder, then, that so many organisations struggle to find and train enough leaders to fulfil their needs. Too many non-performing managers in too many layers can lead to inefficiencies, unnecessary bureaucracy, and a lack of clarity regarding decision-making and accountability.
Training Can’t Fix the Leadership Gap
How do we solve the problem of the leadership gap?
The traditional answer to leadership problems at the C‑level is to hire and fire better. This obviously can’t work at lower levels of the hierarchies. With proper due diligence, there wouldn’t be much of the organisation left.
At this point, the strategic answer seems to be training. Even if everyone isn’t born with leadership qualities, such skills can be trained, right? Even the 70% who lack the basic requirements could be made into efficient leaders with proper development — theoretically. 3Forbes: Leadership Development Is A $366 Billion Industry: Here’s Why Most Programs Don’t Work (2019).
Having consulted numerous organisations of varying shapes and sizes, I suggest the numbers for media training potential corresponds with the numbers for potential leadership; about 10% have natural talents for becoming a great spokesperson or a thought leader for the organisation. They have the potential to thrive in a complex relationship with the media. Another 20% can get there with guidance and training.
Theoretically, anyone can become a successful corporate spokesperson with enough media training. But then the investment won’t match the yield.
Alas — training is an answer. But it isn’t the answer.
The Bottleneck of Identifying Leaders
There’s another significant factor to consider when appointing leaders:
How can we identify the right professionals to assign leadership roles?
Many C‑level executives will have distinguished themselves throughout their careers. But the further down the hierarchy we travel, the number of managers increases exponentially — and they become statistically less and less distinguishable as leadership material. 4Harvard Business Review: Why Good Managers Are So Rare (2014).
Considering the challenge of correctly identifying and developing potential leaders, most organisations should be pleased if they can identify 30% of their coworkers with leadership potential.
Another way of describing the situation:
With each added layer of bureaucracy, the statistical chance of identifying and developing strong leaders gets exponentially worse with each layer.
Solution: Appoint Fewer Middle Managers
The solution to this problem is to appoint fewer leaders (especially middle managers!) and allow strong leaders to lead bigger groups.
This approach also allows strong leaders to take on greater responsibilities, leading larger groups and promoting their development and growth.
Of course, ensuring that the right people are appointed to leadership roles is essential. This means investing in training and development programs to help employees develop their skills to become influential leaders.
It also means creating a continuous learning and development culture where employees can take on new challenges and expand their skills.
PR Resource: Checklist for Leadership Clarity
Checklist for Communicative Leadership
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
— George Bernard Shaw
How can you ensure that your leadership is clear in practical situations? Always make sure that everyone in an organisation is clear about the following checks:
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|Gallup: Only One in Ten Possess the Talent To Manage (2015).|
|Zippia: 36 Powerful Leadership Statistics: Things All Aspiring Leaders Should Know (2023).|
|Forbes: Leadership Development Is A $366 Billion Industry: Here’s Why Most Programs Don’t Work (2019).|
|Harvard Business Review: Why Good Managers Are So Rare (2014).|