The Findings Are In and They Are Not Particularly Good When It Comes To Australian Leadership

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There must be an election because one of the most significant reports on Australian leadership, I believe, was released earlier this week and it seems that it has received a cursory glance before people have moved on or gone back and buried their heads in the sand.

This is landmark study by the Centre for Workplace Leadership, part of Melbourne University, took place over two years involving over 2,500 companies and interviews with 8,000 managers and their people. It is probably the most significant report on Australian leadership since the Karpin Report released in 1994 just as the fourth industrial revolution was cranking up.

If we are to fulfil the Prime Minister’s vision of becoming the ‘innovation nation’ there is a great deal of work ahead of us.

Here are some of the report’s headline findings from the companies surveyed:

  • 40% of organisations fail to meet sales and profit targets.
  • The same can be said for targets on return on investment.
  • A little over 10% of Australian companies invest nothing on leadership development.
  • For those that do invest the ratio for investment in senior leaders compared with those people in frontline roles is 10:1.
  • Just over 80% of leaders believe they actively engage with their people. In response just on 50% of their people agree.
  • Few companies have systems to benchmark, actively promote continuous improvement, or fully developed programs that promote innovative practice.
  • Decisions around strategy are made in relative isolation with many leaders relying on ‘gut instinct’ to make critical decisions.
  • People cite feeling daily pressure to undertake work that they believe is non-essential.

In looking to future challenges that leaders in Australia face the report highlighted six core themes:

  • Market and competitive pressures.
  • Operational Challenges.
  • The continuing burden of government and regulation.
  • Accessing the people and skills required and then retaining them.
  • Technological disruption.
  • Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity of external environments.

Quoting directly from the report “at the organisational level, leadership is also linked to a range of outcomes, including productivity, innovation, customer satisfaction, quality and financial performance. These outcomes are found across different leadership styles and practices. Despite the consistency of links between leadership and a wide range of positive and negative outcomes, the mechanisms that generate these outcomes are not well understood”

This suggests leaders need to develop a deeper understanding of the links between leadership and organisational performance. This study reports on a number of those links. If, like me, this study has captured your interest you can download a copy of the study by going to

Viventé Australia enables leaders and managers to create the conditions that allow their people to do their best work every day thus creating a powerful advantage: the synergy between people, leadership, management, and culture, produces performance that allows your business to achieve its outcomes.