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Do Australian Business Leaders Have What It Takes?

By Admin | 17 October 2016 |

Earlier this spring, workplace researchers at the University of Melbourne released the results of an extensive study which showed that Australian business leaders may not be as effective as they once thought.

The report, called the Study of Australian Leadership, sent Oz business sites into a whirlwind, with many websites and blogs discussing the results and wrestling with the implications.

Even the University of Melbourne itself raised questions during their summary of the findings:

“In the face of this, what do Australia’s business leaders think are the critical challenges for their organisations? How well equipped are they to respond to the emerging challenges. Which aspects of their businesses, are doing well, which a lagging and do these differences in performance reflect leaders’ own practices and capabilities?”

We gathered up two of the more in-depth reactions to the study and picked out insights we felt were most powerful and worthy of further discussion.

We’re Missing the Mark Because We’re Missing Motivation

Perhaps the most sobering data gathered by the University of Melbourne was this: 57% of workplaces are achieving their profit targets.

This led the Centre for Workplace Leadership (CWL) to conclude that many businesses “are not getting basic management practices right, specifically performance monitoring, target setting and the appropriate use of incentives.”

The CWL’s assertion that there is a link between missed profit goals and leadership brings up some very interesting points.

Have Australian businesses missed the cultural shift among employees that we discussed a few months ago in a post on the power of motivation?

Motivation isn’t just a matter of choosing the right incentive program; it’s understanding the individual employee’s needs and creating a rewards system.

Using motivation to your advantage also acknowledges that motivation actually comes from within and individual, which further emphasizes the importance of understanding your team. Not only that, it will significantly impact their performance at work.

We wrote about this principle in 2015, using a TED Talk by strategist and thinker Dan Pink as reference material. Here’s what we wrote:

“When employees find internal motivation for doing a particular task, their creativity increases, their abilities sharpen and their satisfaction rises. Pretty amazing, isn’t it?”

Missing the Mark Because We’re Not Investing in Leaders

Take a moment to think about all the jobs and occupations you’ve had. How many of your workplaces had an active leadership training program? How many places have you worked where the management team was actively helping employees learn about leadership?

Many workplaces say they emphasize leadership development, but, in reality, few actually do it.

Here’s what the University of Melbourne said:

“Investing in leadership development really does matter. The (ASL) shows workplaces investing in a range of leadership development activities have more capable leaders with a stronger belief in their ability to do the job. Both of these factors are linked to better performance and more innovation.”

Pretty powerful statement, isn’t it?

If you think your company is mired in a lack of innovation and an absence of good performances, consider the extent and energy of your leadership program:

  • Do you have infrastructure for a leadership program?
  • Is the existing infrastructure outdated?
  • What philosophy of leadership is your company promoting?
  • How many employees are involved in the leadership program?
  • Is it something employees want to do, or do the participate begrudgingly?

If the answers to those questions have made you a bit depressed, don’t worry because you probably aren’t alone. The realization that your company’s overall performance may be the result of poor leadership training or misguided motivational programs should be considered the first step in a journey toward revitalization.

“Our advice to Australian businesses is to get some quick wines on improving management, but also take an urgent view of what leadership skills you need for the future” the University of Melbourne wrote. “Quick wins include taking a look at your basic management practices such as setting goals and communicating KPI’s.”

Negotiating Change in Our Changing World

Good business leaders will walk away from this post knowing their company’s strengths and weaknesses, then taking action in areas that need fixing.

Should you believe that what’s happening at your company isn’t something that can be fixed by existing leadership, consider hiring one of our leadership or change management keynote speakers. The speakers we’ve chosen for our team have extensive experience and know how to communicate in a way that will connect with your employees and inspire them to greatness.