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Employees want leaders on all levels

Staff writer |
A new Ketchum leadership study of more than 6,000 respondents in 12 countries reveals people are looking more to employees at all levels for leadership instead of just those at the top of the org chart.

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According to the fourth-annual Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor (KLCM), 41 percent of respondents believe leadership should come mainly from the organization and all its employees, compared with 25 percent that believe leadership should come only from the CEO.

This aligns with three years of KLCM data pointing to the demise of the CEO-as-celebrity leadership style and highlights a greater-than-ever opportunity for "leadership by all" – a collaborative and communicative culture that empowers employees at every level.

While the CEO, board and senior management still play an important role, the study suggests that employees throughout an organization can and should provide leadership.

The survey identified the top five traits of an effective leader: leading by example (63 percent), communicating in an open and transparent way (61 percent), admitting mistakes (59 percent), bringing out the best in others (58 percent), and handling controversial issues or crises calmly and confidently (58 percent).

These are traits that every CEO should possess, and also ones that every good employee would have.

"Title-less Leader" articulates the rising support for the concept of shared leadership and underscores Ketchum's findings that leaders no longer reside only at the top of an org chart, nor do they necessarily possess traditional leadership titles.

This finding is also reflected in another part of the study, which looks at perceptions of how leaders performed during major global crises of the past year.

This emerging preference for leadership by many, as well as confidence in leadership from unexpected sources comes at a time when leaders are under scrutiny. Disillusionment is high; only one in four (24 percent) people believe leaders are effective.

Global crises, economic uncertainty and changes in business and technology continue at a relentless pace. Against this backdrop, leaders are being judged quickly and at times mercilessly.

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