Its Lonely at the Top – Survey Says Senior Managers Lack Leadership Development Opportunities

WELLESLEY, Mass., Sept. 28, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — A new survey of 400 leaders in 300 companies across the country indicates that one of the greatest challenges for today’s leaders is “influencing up” to more senior levels. Whether they seek to influence their own peers and managers, or board members, clients and industry experts, 24% said this is an urgent and timely challenge, while 64% said it is applicable and very relevant.

The survey, conducted by Bates Communications, a global consulting firm specializing in executive presence and communicative leadership and was conducted over a six-month period, gathered responses to questions about executive presence and influence. The data shows leaders are facing significant challenges in leading through the headwinds of change. They want and need their companies to provide them with support, by offering more leadership development, especially in the area of communication and influence.

In response to the statement “I am leading an initiative that requires groups and functions to work together collaboratively,” 30% said the statement was urgent and timely, while 62% said it was highly relevant. Additionally, 24% said there is urgent and important change happening within their groups or businesses, while another 54% said change was among their top business challenges.

“Leading change is more challenging than ever, because of the speed of business today,” says Suzanne Bates, CEO of Bates Communications. Bates adds, “Influencing others and driving change is a real, present and urgent issue for leaders across every industry.”

Bates and her team have developed the first-and-only science-based model of executive presence and influence. They have engaged in three years of research on the topic of executive presence and influence and found that while a majority of leaders believe they have the necessary business and technical skills, there are gaps in development for leaders in the social emotional qualities of leadership.

“Qualities such as concern, resonance, and inclusiveness, all associated with executive presence, tend to be rated lower by peers, direct reports and managers,” says Bates. Their colleagues would like to see them develop more of what is often referred to as E.Q.,” says Bates. “Qualities such as composure, restraint, and humility, are highly correlated with leading through change, driving innovation and making companies competitive.”

Among those responding to the survey of 400 leaders, 28% were senior executives, 12% high potential leaders, and the rest were middle managers, supervisors and individual contributors who have an interest in developing themselves as leaders. A small percentage of respondents were also leadership development professionals in a position to observe what types of business challenges leaders in their organizations are confronting.

The survey shows most leaders would invest more time in developing presence and influence if their companies offered it.

69% of leaders in the 2016 survey say their companies are not offering enough meaningful development. The survey included leaders from every level from senior executives to mid-level managers and individual contributors interested in leadership roles. 20% said their organization invests little or nothing in their leadership development. 13% said their organizations offer some leadership development but that they don’t consider it relevant or worthwhile. An additional 36% reported their organizations offer some useful leadership development but that it is not as frequent or comprehensive as they wish it was.

Do leaders have the time, or want to spend the time in developing themselves? The answer is a resounding yes. More than half said they were willing to spend at least five hours a week on their development if it would help their careers; almost everyone else said they would be willing to spend at least five hours a month.
Suzanne Bates, author of four books including the new, “All the Leader You Can Be, The Science of Achieving Extraordinary Executive Presence,” says that presence is no longer a mysterious X-factor in leadership. The firm released the first validated, science-based model of executive presence and influence in 2014, which highlights 15 specific qualities of executive presence essential to leadership effectiveness. These include qualities of “character” such as integrity and humility; qualities of “substance” including practical wisdom and vision; and qualities of “style” such as intentionality and inclusiveness, all play a significant role in the leader’s ability to get people to go above and beyond. The firm’s research has led to a science-based definition of executive presence, as the qualities leaders need to engage, align, inspire and move people to act. The model and Bates ExPI assessment are now deployed in at least 17 countries.

CONTACT: Tara G. Frier
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