New Research Reveals Leadership Accountability Gap Between Performance and Expectation

Press Release

Less than a third (31%) of Business Leaders and HR professionals are satisfied with accountability demonstrated by leaders.

MAITLAND, FL -- May 10, 2017: A leadership accountability gap has been revealed by a new global report published by talent development and transition firm Lee Hecht Harrison.  Despite 72% of business leaders and HR professionals recognizing that leadership accountability is a critical business issue, only 31% are satisfied by the level of accountability they see from the leaders in their organization.  This gap between expectation and reality is fairly consistent across all global regions.

Furthermore, less than half of leaders (48%) are currently judged to be truly accountable. Many leaders appear committed to driving business results and the technical aspects of their role, although fewer are concerned with crucial aspects of actual leadership such as managing people, inspiring teams, addressing performance issues and building culture. Our research supports these views, with only just over a quarter (27%) of respondents identifying a strong leadership culture at their organization.

Without accountability, people in leadership roles aren’t stepping up in a meaningful way to help their organizations to succeed.

Vince Molinaro, Ph.D.Global Managing Director, Leadership Transformation Practice

The report highlights a connection between strong leadership accountability and organizational performance, with industry-leading companies outpacing self-identified average and low-performing companies, when it comes to leaders demonstrating accountability behaviors* day-to-day, and displaying the organizational practices and cultural attributes that cultivate accountability.

Vince Molinaro, Ph.D., Global Managing Director, Leadership Transformation Practice, Lee Hecht Harrison, said: “Accountable leadership is a requirement for building an organization that can thrive and remain agile. It’s never been more important than in these unprecedented times of change with countless disruptors at play like digital technologies, sweeping demographic changes and chronic political and economic uncertainty. Without accountability, people in leadership roles aren’t stepping up in a meaningful way to help their organizations to succeed.

“It’s clear that current investments in leadership development are not creating stronger leaders. As such, the shortage of quality leaders is arguably the biggest talent issue facing organizations today.”

The research points to a failure of organizations in addressing this issue head-on. While 49% of respondents felt that deliberate and explicit expectations had been set for leadership, only a fifth (20%) have the courage to address mediocre and unaccountable leaders.

Peter Alcide, President and Chief Operating Officer, Lee Hecht Harrison, adds: “We invested in this global study in order to uncover the full scale of the leadership accountability gap, which we learned of through previous regional research and anecdotal evidence from our work with clients that represent 60% of Fortune 500 organizations. By not proactively dealing with weak leadership, organizations breed further mediocrity, exacerbating the core issue over the longer term.  This report is therefore designed to provide organizations with insight and practical advice on upping their game when it comes to leadership development.”

According to Vince Molinaro, “It’s crucial that organizations are instilling practices that build strong leadership accountability, in order for a culture to develop in which such behaviors flourish. The highest performing companies in our study ensure that their leaders understand what matters to their customers and cascade the business strategy to create clarity of purpose amongst leaders.”

Regional Differences:
North America
Leaders in North America are much more likely to hold teams accountable for high standards of performance, and leadership culture is focused more so on driving the execution of strategy. North American organizations are more likely to ensure leaders understand what is important to customers, but less likely to strive for strategic clarity among leaders.
South America
Leaders in South America are much more likely to tackle tough issues and make difficult decisions, and tend to be more committed to the idea of “one company”. Organizations in South America are more likely to implement programs that build the capacity of leaders.
Leaders in Europe are more likely to display a high degree of clarity around external factors and trends. European organizations tend to focus more on ensuring leaders are clear on the leadership expectations of the organization and sharing employee engagement data.
Leaders in Asia are much more likely to act in the best interests of the whole organization, minimize unhealthy politics, and, like their European counterparts, display a high degree of clarity about external factors and trends. Asian organizations are also more likely to implement practices that foster diversity and strive for strategic clarity among leaders.
Notes to editors:

The behaviors of an Accountable Leader

  • Develops their leadership capabilities
  • Builds the leadership capabilities of their team
  • Minimizes unhealthy politics
  • Displays a high degree of clarity about external trends in the business environment
  • Acts in the best interests of the whole organization
  • Collaborates with peers to break down silos and align efforts
  • Expresses optimism about the company and its future
  • Effectively communicates the business strategy throughout the organization
  • Tackles tough issues and makes difficult decisions
  • Holds others accountable for high standards of performance

About the Research
The Leadership Accountability Gap report was compiled from a global online survey of 1,116 senior leadership and HR professionals from a broad range of sectors. Also, a survey was conducted with 887 customers at Lee Hecht Harrison events held in 33 cities throughout 2016. A series of interviews with select customers provided further insight. A copy of the full report can be downloaded here.
About Lee Hecht Harrison

Lee Hecht Harrison (LHH) helps companies transform their leaders and workforce so they can accelerate performance. In an era of continuous change, successfully transforming your workforce depends on how well companies and their people embrace, navigate, and lead change. We use our expertise in talent development and transition to deliver tailored solutions that help our clients ensure they have the people and culture they need to evolve and grow. We are passionate about making a difference in peoples’ careers and building better leaders so our clients can build a strong employer brand.
A division of The Adecco Group, Lee Hecht Harrison’s 4,000 colleagues work with more than 7,000 clients in 60 countries around the world. We have the local expertise, global infrastructure, and industry leading technology and analytics required to manage the complexity associated with executing critical talent and workforce initiatives, reducing brand and operational risk. It’s why 60% of Fortune 500 companies choose to work with us.
About The Adecco Group

The Adecco Group is the world’s leading provider of workforce solutions, transforming the world of work through talent and technology. Each year, The Adecco Group provides over 1 million people around the world with career opportunities, guidance and insights. Through its global brands Adecco, Modis, Badenoch & Clark, Spring Professional, Lee Hecht Harrison and Pontoon, The Adecco Group offers total workforce solutions including temporary staffing, permanent placement, career transition, talent development, and outsourcing. The Adecco Group partners with employers, candidates, colleagues and governments, sharing its labor market expertise and insights to empower people, fuel economies, and enrich societies.
The Adecco Group is a Fortune Global 500 company, based in Zurich, Switzerland, with more than 33,000 FTE employees in 60 countries and territories around the world. Adecco Group AG is registered in Switzerland (ISIN: CH0012138605) and listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange (ADEN).
For further information contact:
Helene Cavalli
Vice President, Marketing
Lee Hecht Harrison
P 267.322.1300

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