Craving Leadership

By December 4, 2013Leadership

Rod Cartwright with Ketchum pointed me to their Leadership Communication Monitor report. Reading through all the statistics and trends was fascinating, disappointing, and motivating. Here is a sample of all three:

Fascinating: Acting in a customer-centered way is being more closely tied to effective corporate leadership behaviors. Although trustworthiness is still at the top in leadership attributes, the largest jump in importance include these areas: quality products/services, customer service, and customer-focused.

Disappointing: Confidence in leaders is not improving and only “24% feel leaders are demonstrating effective leadership, with a 21 percentage point gap between expectations and delivery.”

Motivating: In leadership crisis, we may find purpose in how we lead. The urgency of the situation demands better leadership and many will embrace leaders who lead by example in integrity, transparency, and responsibility. The technology sector stands as a solid example so we have opportunities to learn from successes and failures.

Craving Leadership

People crave solid leadership. People crave trustworthiness in leaders and organizations. And you know what? Leaders crave these elements, too (or, at least, they should). We need to rise to the leadership challenge and deliver better leadership practices and actions.

Craving Leadership – Ways Forward

To answer the leadership crave, the Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor (March 2013) offers a direction forward. Several leadership behaviors were offered, and highlighted below are the top five for the next 10 years.

  1. The ability to build and inspire effective teams who, together, will create the future.
  2. The ability to turn complex problems into an opportunity or advantage.
  3. The vision to see the future despite near-term distractions and the flexibility to find a way to reach it.
  4. The ability to calm unstable situations and steer others towards useful outcomes.
  5. The ability to create, grow and tap into smart networks, by using new technologies to drive change.

For me, what these themes raise is a call for an enhanced leadership model. The new behaviors guide us to a new five point leadership model:

  1. Lead to inspire action
  2. Lead to solve problems while creating opportunities
  3. Lead with clarity of action
  4. Lead with calm confidence
  5. Lead collaboratively to facilitate change

This is the call of creating a new leadership story line. This is the call to cross the gap and engage leaders across the generations and lead anew.

Craving Leadership – Across Generations

When asked which generation “is most likely to navigate us through challenging and rapidly changing times over the coming 3-5 year,” the unsurprising answer is a blend of Boomers and Generation X (leaders between 35 and 50). Why unsurprising? These leaders are here and now and a 3-5 year timeframe is very short.

The real answer to address the leadership craving is this:  All generations of leaders need to be engaged. The only way to solve the leadership challenges is by working across generations, understanding perspectives, and sharing experiences. By reaching across generations, we will close the leadership gap and enter a new era of trusted, engaging leadership.

Are you ready to cross the leadership gap?

Jon Mertz
Jon Mertz is one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business and highlighted as one of the Leaders to Watch in 2015 by the American Management Association. He also is the author of Activate Leadership: Aspen Truths to Empower Millennial Leaders. Jon serves as vice president of marketing at Corepoint Health. Outside of his professional life, Jon brings together a community to inspire Millennial leaders and close the gap between two generations of leaders.
Jon Mertz
Jon Mertz

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Join the discussion 13 Comments

  • Lalita says:

    That data of only “24% feel leaders are demonstrating effective leadership, is shocking and even more alarming is the 21 percentage point gap between expectations and delivery.
    Lead with calm and confidence is one the most difficult and I have seen very few leaders who are actively involved and lead by example.

    Good points Jon

    • Jon M says:

      Thank you, Lalita. Getting more and more leaders to embrace the call to lead in better ways is so critical, as the stats point out. Change required. Your insights help facilitate those changes so keep doing it! Thanks. Jon

  • […] Craving Leadership by Jon Mertz. Key quote: “The real answer to address the leadership craving is this: All generations of leaders need to be engaged. The only way to solve the leadership challenges is by working across generations, understanding perspectives, and sharing experiences. By reaching across generations, we will close the leadership gap and enter a new era of trusted, engaging leadership.” […]

  • Let's Grow Leaders says:

    Great post and terrific list. I like “lead with calm confidence.” The ability to do that well truly differentiates the leaders I most respect.

  • Jon, thanks for the post. I appreciate you.

    I’m challenged with this. There seem to be so many actionable ideas coming from your post, and I haven’t even clicked through to the study itself yet.

    But one idea resonated with me: create the future. I’ll have more to say on that. Thanks to you for being connected and for sharing that idea with me.

    Now, let’s go create the future!

    • Jon M says:

      Thank you, Mike. What Lead Change is instigating fits with what this research shows as a better leadership path forward. Thank you for continuing to challenge leaders and look forward to your thoughts on “create the future!” Jon

  • Alli Polin says:

    Wow – 24%…. I see many leaders that could stand to focus on removing roadblocks vs process administration. I know that a shocking amount of admin falls on the plates of sr leaders… but when they get so caught up in the con calls, spreadsheets, KPIs… they stop connecting, removing roadblocks and clearing a path to success. I don’t know about you, but I really want to feel that my leader is on my side. This post really has me thinking. Thanks, Jon!

    • Jon M says:

      That statistic was alarming, Alli, and it is time for leaders to sit down, think about the way they are leading, and then make solid changes to lead in more trust-enabled, collaborative, and clear ways. The research can be disheartening but also a call-to-lead. I hope leaders will embrace the latter! Thank you. Jon

  • Hiten Vyas says:

    Hi Jon,

    Your post reminded me of the late and great Nelson Mandela. He did so much good in his life. One of his most outstanding qualities was his leadership and it is his leadership behaviours that will inspire and motivate generations to come. Have a good weekend.

    Thank you.

    • Jon M says:

      You are so right, Hiten. Nelson Mandela inspired so many positive and relevant leadership behaviors. We could our lifetime learning from his. Thank you. Jon

  • Rod Cartwright says:

    Thanks so much for the very thoughtful, mindful post – we believe this is an important conversation for anyone interested in leadership, communication and how the two together contribute to positive, real-world outcomes, and are delighted to be part of this crucial debate.

    • Jon M says:

      Thank you, Rod, for highlighting this report to me. The research is very valuable for leaders and organizations who are looking at ways to improve how they lead and how they communicate. Well done to the team at Ketchum! Appreciate your work and sounding the leadership call. Jon

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