Are you confident in your leadership team?

Are you confident in your leadership team?

Glen Johnson, Partner at Odgers Interim, says that if you don’t have confidence in your leadership team, you are far from alone. In fact, as our Leadership Confidence Index 2022 finds, you are in the majority.

In late 2021, over 1,100 senior executives in 46 countries representing companies with revenues ranging from $50 million to over $5 billion were surveyed by our Odgers Berndtson team. In partnership with Forrester, we published the results of our second Leadership Confidence Index (LCI) this past May, two years after our first LCI.

A lot has changed in that two-year period and comparing the findings of our studies points up some interesting trends. Back in 2019, just 24% of executives had confidence in their leaders. Now that stands at 42%, a significant uplift which equates to a 75% gain in confidence.

What has driven this shift? Most obviously, the rigors of the COVID-19 pandemic, which analysis in our new report likens to “rough waters” in which leaders were able to “show what they have got and why they are there”.

At the height of the crisis, clear, competent and decisive leadership was arguably valued more than ever. This has led to many top executives being perceived as better leaders than was the case two years ago, due to the urgency of the situation, clarity of purpose and care for the team in demanding circumstances.

But what really astonishes me is the fact that it’s still only 42% of executives who have confidence in their leaders. You don’t need to be a math genius to figure out that means a whopping 58% of CEOs and Board members aren’t as sold on what leaders are offering.

Why? When you unpack the results of the 2022 report, you find that in general there is no lack of “motivation” and “resilience” by leadership teams. Yet when it comes to skills like “emotional intelligence”, “operational-transformation”, “data analysis”, and “digital acumen” …well, the numbers are very low. Worryingly, each of these has been given a sub-40% score, with digital acumen at the bottom of the pile on a mere 27%. This paints a picture of leaders deficient in some vital skills.

Considering I spend most of my days interviewing interim executive talent, I find it incredibly interesting that these same skills continuously come up during conversations and appear to be inherent in the interim management talent pool. Interim executives are extremely nimble. They experience multiple working environments and need to go FAST!

As such, they rely on data and insights, and very quickly can “read a room”. They spend their first days on the job listening intently to their colleagues and the workforce, leaning on their own brand of EQ to gain insight and understanding of the culture and environment.

Oftentimes, they are invited into crisis, chaos, and transformation. And the key to their success is the set of skills that is apparently lacking in many embedded leadership teams.

Does this deficit come down to complacency, lack of continuous learning, day to day administrative overload? Limited challenges, an employee ‘wait and see’ long-view versus an interim bias for immediate action?

These are big questions for organizations to grapple with, but I can say with confidence that hiring a talented, well-chosen interim executive to your leadership team can mitigate some of the challenges that exist regarding confidence in a company’s leadership team.

As our LCI 2022 makes clear, “Ultimately, ‘confidence in leadership’ is subjective, but it is right at the heart of attracting, engaging, and retaining the best talent. When companies get this right, they dominate their markets. If they get it wrong, they struggle, and the simple fact is poor leadership is the cause.”


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