Aussie businesses lacking leadership skills: Report

Start-ups have been urged to “look in their own backyard” with regard to skill development after a new study showed that Australian businesses were severely lacking in leadership and management qualities.


The Leadership, Employment and Direction survey, conducted by Chase Research on behalf of Leadership Management Australia, involved 2,601 business leaders, managers and employees.


According to the survey, the most severe skills shortages are in technical areas, leadership, sales and marketing, operations, trade skills, management and customer service.


The research also reveals that 57% of business leaders, 70% of managers and 66% of employees say their organisations are currently experiencing a skills shortage.


Leadership was identified as a skills shortage area among 30% of leaders, 26% of managers and 23% of employees. Meanwhile, more than 20% of all three groups indentified a shortage with regard to management skills.


LMA chief executive Andrew Henderson says he’s surprised to see leadership and management so high up on the list.


“It is of a great concern because their skills are essential for the management of an organisation’s broad skills set. Leaders and managers clearly need to look in their own backyard… when it comes to skill development,” he says.


“[They also] need to take concrete action to improve their own skills through formal training and mentoring, and be willing to take on new ideas and new thinking.”


Henderson says business leaders also have a responsibility to align themselves with other like-minded professionals of a similar calibre.


“If today’s leaders and managers aren’t spotting and developing tomorrow’s leaders and managers, organisations will suffer a double impact from the apparent skills shortage,” he says.


The report suggests that while the outlook remains strong in eyes of the employee, it is wavering with leaders and managers.


“Concerns around the political, environmental and economic future of Australia and New Zealand appear to be clouding the perspectives of leaders and managers,” the report says.


“Meanwhile, employees appear to be blissfully unaware of the uncertainty of their organisational future.”


According to the report, the gap in the realities of the three key audiences creates the potential for miscommunication and misunderstanding.


“If the typical employee has an extremely positive outlook and his/her managers and leaders don’t share that outlook, major gaps will appear and contradictions between perception and reality have the potential to negatively impact on performance and productivity,” it says.


LMA executive chairman Grant Sexton says failing to address these gaps could have dire consequences.


“The big risk in employees having one view of the organisational world, and their leaders and managers having a contrary view, is that employee expectations will exceed the organisation’s will and potential to deliver their anticipated future,” he says.


“In effect, the gap will perpetuate to the point of self destruction and lead to excessive and costly staff turnover.”


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