Welcome to the Vital Integrities Blog

Train Your Leaders, Part I

"Reducing workforce is the toughest business decision a company has to make," said Duane Ackerman, chief executive of BellSouth, announcing the company's plans to eliminate 1,500 management positions. "We have worked hard to avoid it, but many companies our size and particularly our competitors operate with lower overhead and fewer management layers." Indeed, BellSouth joins a long list of restructured telecommunications companies that have significantly reduced their workforces in recent years. Nonetheless, getting rid of managers, as a competitive strategy, goes against current business wisdom about leadership.

In a recent study, Accenture asked business executives to identify critical factors for meeting competitive challenges and achieving high performance. Respondents singled out leadership development as the most important issue. Nearly two-thirds of the surveyed executives rated leadership development very important to their organizations' future success. So why, at a time when enhancing leadership skills is critical to high organizational performance, would BellSouth elect to eliminate experienced managers?

Certainly, companies tend to pay managers more than non-supervisory employees, so BellSouth's action will have the most impact in reducing "overhead." But perhaps another finding in the Accenture survey offers a better reason. While recognizing the importance of developing leaders, only 8 percent of respondents said their organizations do it very well. In other words, 92 percent of organizations don't think their managers are doing a great job. So why not reduce their ranks?

This raises another question: What makes executives think their organizations' lack the ability to develop their leaders? Only one out of five executives in the Accenture survey said that at least 75 percent of their employees understand their company's strategic goals, and just two out of five said three-quarters or more of their workers see how their efforts contribute to meeting their organization's goals. It's obvious that most managers are failing to communicate their organization's purpose or generate buy-in from employees.

Respondents in the Accenture study have it right: Organizations must develop their leaders. What are you doing to yours?
Bookmark this post on del.icio.us

What do you think? Post a Comment
Vital Integrities Blog - Blogged