Importance of Leadership Behaviours – a Study of Senior Leaders

The pandemic has put even greater demands on leaders

In a changing world that is currently undergoing the biggest changes of our lifetime, new generations are more challenged than ever with entering the workplace, and technology is transforming how we work. Successful leaders must be multifaceted. At the top of the organizational hierarchy, senior leaders face greater demands juggling multiple stakeholders and responsibilities. Not surprisingly, successful senior leaders must employ a complex set of behaviours.

Research shows that leaders need to excel at several core behaviours central to successful change

MRG, a global leader in designing assessments whose products we use at Kwela, collected data between 2014 and 2018 that involved 5,049 participants from 35 countries and 30 industries. The focus of the research was VP and above and the participants were 66% male and 33% females (1% did not report).

The analysis method calculated a leadership effectiveness score as assessed by the person’s manager, peers and direct reports. This score was regressed on 22 typical leadership behaviours. A relative weights analysis was then conducted to determine which leadership behaviours were most associated with high effectiveness ratings at the senior leadership level. The results were:

Effective senior leaders:

  • Think long term and understand potential consequences before acting; they evaluate issues and consider the broad implications of their decisions based upon their field of expertise (Strategic and Technical)
  • Are compelling, clear communicators who are skilled at both generating excitement and persuading others to align with their views (Communication, Persuasion and Excitement)
  • Don’t shy away from the difficulties of leadership; they are comfortable with their positional power, handle conflict, and are willing to challenge others (Management Focus)
  • Value others’ ideas and include them in decision-making; demonstrate compassion and can get others feeling good about themselves and their work (Empathy)
  • Follow an interdependent decision-making approach (Self) and do not use those in authority too much as resources for information, direction and decisions. (Authority).

But leaders also need support. Coaching and developing senior leaders to build skills and confidence in these areas will help them meet the challenging demands of the modern workplace.

Kwela’s Executive Coaching and other Leadership Program services are now delivered virtually.

Nic Tsangarakis, Principal