Technical knowhow does not a leader make – it's relationships that matter

Companies are shooting themselves in the foot by picking leaders for the wrong reasons, a global study suggests.

Companies are shooting themselves in the foot by picking leaders for the wrong reasons, a global study suggests.

Research conducted for HR consultancy Right Management found while the best leaders excelled at team-building, it was finance and technical experts who were being picked for plum chief executive positions, because financial and operational success can be quantified.

“We may be picking our leaders for all the wrong reasons,” Nick Grage-Perry, head of Right Management's New Zealand arm, told BusinessDesk.

“The survey results are surprising in that they show poor decision-making rarely contributes to leadership failure as much as the inability to form broader relationships.

He said often organisations selected a leader based on his or her ability to think quickly and make tough decisions – yet poor decision-making comprised just 3.4 percent of the cited reasons for leadership failure.

“Relationships, not reflexes, are what we should focus on first when weighing up candidates for leadership positions.”

There was a general expectation among CEOs that they would be picked from the finance and operations departments. However, these were not capabilities actually seen as important in a leader.

The most important competency was judged to be “creating a strategic vision” by 92 percent, followed by “inspiring others and maintaining leadership responsibility” (61.2 percent), and “developing an accurate and comprehensive overview of the business” (54.5 percent).

The survey covered more than 1,400 chief executives and 700 human resources professionals.

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