Prof Peter GahanA major new report ‘Leadership at Work – Do Australian leaders have what it takes?’ has just been released by the Centre for Workplace Leadership, the largest ever survey of leadership in Australia. The findings are sobering. Most organisations do not have the leadership required to survive and thrive in the 21st century.  It was really interesting to attend the launch of the report in Sydney and engage in dialogue with members of the Centre for Workplace Leadership team.

What’s happening in Australian organisations:

1.  Australian workplaces are underperforming.

2.  They don’t get the basics of leadership and management right.

3.  Few organisations report high levels of innovation.

4.  Leaders are not well-trained for the job.

5.  There is underinvestment in leadership development, especially at the frontline.

6.  Leadership doesn’t reflect wider social diversity. Australia has an ageing leadership, lacking cultural and gender diversity and with low formal qualifications.

7.  Many senior leaders don’t draw on strategic advice – they don’t access external or diverse perspectives, contributing to a lack of risk awareness and capacity to innovate.

So, for the good news. There is a clear relationship between leadership capability and high performance, and the more training leaders receive, the better their firms perform. There is a correlation between improvements in self efficacy, leadership capability and workplace outcomes.

Key areas for quick wins are:

1.  Get the basics right: Set clear goals and KPI’S, make them visible. Monitor performance, address issues, ensure continuous improvement.

2.  Enable innovation: Build a culture of learning. A growth mindset is critical.

3.  Develop leaders: Ensure leadership development is at frontline levels, not just senior leadership. Access training, coaching and mentoring.

4.  Access strategic advice:  In times of market and competitive pressure and volatility, leaders need help to ‘make sense’ of what’s happening and make informed decisions.

We’re all leading turnaround businesses defined by the realities of complexity, ambiguity and change. Investment in leadership pays dividends.  It is also critical to enable performance.