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Senior managers are uninspiring – survey

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A new report by the Institute of Management, “Leadership: a challenge for all” suggests that it is rare for junior managers to hold a high opinion of their superiors. The project was undertaken by Demos, and included respondents from the highest management levels right down to young people about to start their careers.

People in leadership positions tend to be regarded as knowledgeable and ambitious rather than as providing inspiration. More than half of managers said they looked to senior figures for inspiration, but only 11% said they found it. Vision, preparation for the future and change management were also described as weak areas.

Organisations with established leadership development policies came out of the survey much better than those without, both in terms of the feedback from middle managament about their leaders and in terms of turnover in the past three years. Responses from these organisations highlighted formal mentoring, learning in real work contexts and 360-degree feedback as particularly effective elements.

Mary Chapman, director general of the Institute of Management, said: “This research reveals a strong consensus about what constitutes good leadership and gives clear recommendations on how organisations can bring out the potential of their leaders, at all levels. A significant minority already have an excellent approach to leadership development, but the challenge is for the majority to recognise and adopt these good practices.”

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