What do we think of our leaders and how they communicate?


The Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor (KLCM) surveyed 6,500 people in 13 countries across 5 continents to find out what people thought about their leaders, including how leaders communicated, the confidence they inspired, the accountability of leaders, their values, and whether leaders measured up to the expectations people held for them.

KLCM has just released its 2014 Overview. It has some sobering findings pointing to a continuing crisis in leadership.

Whilst there are differences across continents and countries, the outcomes of the survey make sobering reading. The KLCM Report does not include Australia but it makes some observations relevant and important to us all.

The Crisis in Leadership Continues

In line with their last two annual reports, the findings of the lastest KLCM Report confirm that, most leaders whether they are in government, business, community services or the not-for-profit sector, have not caught up with the expectations that people have for them as leaders.

Most leaders are failing to exhibit the behaviours, particularly as communicators, necessary to inspire, enhance and enable people to follow their leader.

According to KLCM, leaders across the globe ‘fall well short’ of our expectations.  There is a growing hunger for leaders who are open, transparent, show respect, demonstrate clear values, admit mistakes, walk the talk, and are determined to find solutions.

"Communication is more critical than ever to commercial outcomes" the Report observes.  74% of people surveyed viewed effective communication as very important to great leadership.  Only 29% of leaders were perceived as communicating effectively.

The Dawn of a New Era in Leadership Communication

The future of leadership communication is more feminine regardless of your gender as a leader.  This new archetype is replacing its macho predecessor. The new model for leadership is more transparent, accessible and values-lead.

People want their leaders to be more caring; to respect different cultures; to engage in two-way conversations (top down, singular messages won't work).

Female leaders are outperforming their male counterparts in “…the vast majority of attributes found by research to be critical to great leadership” according to the Report.

Some Things Never Go Out of Style

The Report confirms that there are certain leadership behaviours that will never go out of style:

- lead by example

- remain calm and confident under pressure

- provide clear long term vision

- align your words and actions.

But these must be balanced with a communication style that is more feminine.

The Report warns it would be a big mistake for female leaders to model their behavioural attributes and communication style on the outmoded macho model - somewhat imperious, domineering, top-down and know-it-all.

In summary KLCM Report finds that:

- Spin is dead.  Spinners will be found out and punished.

- People want principled leadership backed up by action

- A set of inflexible, tightly controlled key messages do not drive trust

- Transparency is non-negotiable

- Leaders need to amit mistakes, provide solutions and move forward

- People want leaders who can chart pathways for continuously making the future better

- Collaboration is vital.  Leaders need to bring others to the table to solve problems

- Leaders need to treat their employees as they  would like their  brand or organisation to be treated, and

- Leaders need to embrace the 'evangelists' not sideline or ignore them i.e. the vocal minority who are well connected, influential advocates for change.

It appears from the general disaffection with all types of leaders at all levels that a great deal of work remains to be done in this area.

The Report concludes that corporations continue to forgo the considerable competitive advantage to be grained from of truly effective leadership, with effective leadership communication at its core. 

KLCM reminds us that as the World Economic Forum (WER) and many others have found, effective leadership, with effective communication, remains a fundamental driver for positive social and economic outcomes.