Factors affecting leadership success and failureInsights into the traits that global leaders need to be successful as well as the factors that most likely lead to their derailment is revealed in a survey of 1,400 CEOs and human resource professionals by global talent and career management consultancy Right Management and the Chally Group*.

Asked to rate the four competencies most critical for C-suite positions, respondents cited:

  • Creating a strategic vision (92%)
  • Inspiring others and maintaining leadership responsibility (62%)
  • Developing an accurate and comprehensive overview of the business (57%)
  • Wise decision-making (55%)

The challenge for corporate leaders is that leadership turnover for non-performance, or other leadership dissatisfaction issues continue to be problematic for many organisations. The survey identified the top 10 factors that contribute most to the failure of senior leaders are:

  • Failure to build a relationship or team culture (40%)
  • Mismatch for the culture (32%)
  • Failure to deliver acceptable results (25%)
  • Unable to win support (25%)
  • Lack of appropriate training (23%)
  • Egotistical (15%)
  • Lack of vision (14%)

Sue Roffey-Jones, Practice Leader at Right Management, says: “Leadership development today is more science than art. In today’s business environment leadership development needs to be grounded in real work and focused on the critical competencies required for success in C-level roles.”

The research revealed that leaders evolve from a wide variety of backgrounds, experience and job functions. Western corporate CEOs are most likely to come from Operations and Finance.

When asked what functional areas are most likely to produce a company’s C-level executives, Operations were the most likely to be indicated (68%) and Finance was second ranked (56%) with Sales third (49%). The more specialised functions were less likely to provide the career path to the top. Marketing was less likely (34%), Human Resources (24%), Engineering (22%), IT (13%) and Research and Development only (8%).

Sue Roffey-Jones continues, “We would assume that people are promoted to CEO from Operations and Finance because they are perceived to have developed competencies that are important for the CEO role. However, given what research has revealed to be the critical competencies for a CEO, how would a company develop leaders who have demonstrated a track record of “Creating a strategic visionâ” and “Inspiring others and maintaining leadership responsibility” when these roles are more likely to be the fairly exclusive domain of the CEO.

“With talent now seen as one of the only competitive differentiators left, there is growing recognition that management succession is no luxury. Board members, executives and business leaders are now openly acknowledging that talent management plans “ which include succession management – are absolutely essential for sustained performance in today’s organisations.”

* Data was collected through a quantitative survey of 1,439 CEOs and human resource professionals from 707 organisations. The organisations ranged in size from 500 employees to over 100,000 employees with revenues from less than 25 million US dollars to over 10 billion US dollars. Industries represented varied between public, private and government sectors. Eighty-one percent of the CEOs and 75% of the human resource professionals who participated in the study were from North America.