Magazine article New Zealand Management

Leadership: Cynics and Symptoms

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Leadership: Cynics and Symptoms

Article excerpt

Byline: Reg Birchfield

This year will not be an easy year for leaders. It goes without saying therefore, that it will be even worse for followers.

Here's a sample of the problems leaders face that landed on my desk over the summer break. And a cursory glance at media headlines in the same period suggests a plethora of tricky issues across a range of organisational activities are lying in wait for leaders of every denomination.

For example, skills shortages abound while youth unemployment keeps growing. There's been plenty said about this phenomenon by researchers and consultants both at home and abroad. But there hasn't been much organisational or political leadership evident to suggest anyone is seriously focused on tackling this increasingly dangerous dichotomy. So leaders with an eye and a mind to bridging the gap between education and employment should step up this year.

The skills shortage issue won't be helped by global consultancy Hay Group's pre-Christmas revelation that New Zealand workers will get only modest pay rises this year, around three percent on average, while salaries in Asia will "continue to rocket". The 'war for talent' will intensify, Hay said, despite slowing economic growth, particularly in the more developed economies.

The leadership initiatives New Zealand organisations must deploy this year will include reward strategies designed to retain and attract employees, despite the modest pay increases. That won't be easy given that a record 53,000 Kiwis moved to Australia last year and more skilled employees are looking further north to Asia. Hay suggests a counter to money might be some non-financial retention strategies such as an "engaging work environment" and giving individuals more growth and development opportunities.

But when it comes to engagement, Kiwi leaders aren't really leaders at all. As this column mentioned back in December, more than half New Zealand's employees, 52 percent, are demotivated by managers who fail to provide a success-driven "work environment". And why is that?

Part of the problem according to some other research released in mid December, this time from Australian-based consultancy Leadership Management Australasia, is that Kiwi managers don't communicate all that well with their employees. …

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