The leaders of the future have to be both exceptional and adaptable to positively impact the business as a whole, given the loss of confidence in senior management figures.

Towers Watson’s Global Workforce Study shows that only 51 per cent of employees trust the information that they receive from the senior figures in their organisation, and just 44 per cent believe in their leadership team’s ability to improve business performance.

Of the 2,600 British workers surveyed only 45% felt that leaders were managing costs well and only half rated their senior managers’ performance at growing the business as ‘good’ or ‘very good.

And, a third of respondents reported that their organisation was doing a poor job of developing future leaders. Does your organisation recognise and develop great managers into great leaders?

Arvinder Dhesi, head of talent management at Towers Watson, said it was essential that leaders communicated business strategy and employee expectations clearly, particularly in recessionary times.

But of course, great leaders need to have a grip in the kind of working environment they are stepping into before they can mobilise and inspire the rest of the business to meet the challenges ahead.

It is perhaps understandable that senior managers have become disconnected with their staff when they are under so much pressure themselves to meet targets under increasingly tight cost margins.

Are you as a leader in touch with how external factors are shaping business today?

Leaders must be prepared for a volatile environment and the sheer speed and force that is associated with change today. They need to be honest with the people they manage that there will be no stability, while also reassuring them that they have a strategy in place to ensure the business will cope?

Predicting what how and when change with hit and the impact it will have on the business is tough, even the most experienced leaders. It is essential for them to have the skills they need to help their teams cope with uncertainty. Those that can hit the ground running and make sense out of the chaos associated with the current economic climate rather than take precious time out to gather their thoughts are most likely to succeed.

Complexity is another challenge you will have address to become a respected leader. As technological advances encourage global competition the challenges that leaders must manager become convoluted. Markets will continue to fragment and as they do business specialisms will come in and out of view.

Can you find clarity in a potentially chaotic and ambiguous working environment? Future leaders will have to become masters of dealing with all sorts of different problems and be able to generate an organisational culture that encourages individuals to see change as part of the everyday working environment.

Traditional management skills are not enough. Leaders will need to do much more to remedy any disconnect between them and the rest of the business. Right now, the Towers Watson report is evidence enough to suggest that certain companies have a disconnect between leader and employee, and that building stronger talent pipelines will be necessary moving forward.

Tim Taylor
Making Great Leaders