This piece from McKinsey (Decoding leadership: What really matters) is really quite intriguing.

If we could distil the key behaviours that actually create leadership effectiveness wouldn't that be invaluable?

To focus leadership development activity in a way that prioritises (or even just assesses) these areas would be a great start wouldn't it?

It's quite an attractive proposition and should be of huge interest to organisations.

In the report, the authors share four kinds of behaviour (from a list of 20) that they believe account for 89% of leadership effectiveness:

  1. Be supportive
  2. Operate with strong results orientation
  3. Seek different perspectives
  4. Solve problems effectively

Looking at the 20 leadership traits, I think there are quite a few that overlap too much. To my mind they also sit well with management behaviours...

However, intuitively these 4 feel like a good focus. In fact, when I look back at examples of problematic leadership behaviours that I've come across with clients they seem to stem from a weakness in at least one of these 4 areas.

All too often organisations seem to assume that these foundational behaviours have been nurtured through tenure and organisational success. We know those are poor indicators of leadership effectiveness.

Perhaps the real investment in leadership development really does need to be in building great foundations. The remaining 11% we can invest in afterwards.