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Leaders Around The World Fall Short Of Expectations: Ketchum

According to a 12-country survey done by global communications Ketchum, people around the world are suffering a crisis of confidence in their chosen leaders, whether in the business, political or religious arenas.

Belief in leadership around the world fallen and is going to get worse.

Ketchum's Leadership Communication Monitor shows that, generally, more people around the world believe leadership will actually get worse in 2012 (31-percent), compared with anticipating better leadership (27-percent). Most disconcertingly, numbers show a 28-percentage-point gap between expectations of leaders and their delivery against those expectations. Yup, people don't expect their leaders to deliver on promises. Interestingly, business leaders were seen to be the most effective over the past year, beating out politicians, not-for-profit bosses and even religious leaders. 36-percent viewed business as providing effective leadership (receiving an “excellent” rating of 8 or above on a scale of 0-10) and 48-percent seeing them as effective communicators, while only 25-percent of politicians and religious leaders achieved the same “excellent” rating. And while people expect politicians to provide effective leadership in difficult times were higher than any other group (63-percent), they suffered the lowest vote of confidence, with 47-percent expecting worse political leadership in 2012. “Our study reveals for the first time the full extent of the world’s disappointment with its leaders across every category of human endeavor,” said Rod Cartwright, Director of Ketchum’s Global Corporate Practice. “But the research is also rich with practical insights – a clear blueprint for more effective leadership and leadership communication. What is clear is that effective leadership and effective communication are inextricably linked.” Within the business community, knowledge-based industries were perceived as having the most effective bosses, with technology (44-percent), media (39-percent) and telecommunications (36-percent) ranking highest on leadership effectiveness.

There's a direct link between personal leadership and powerful communication.

According to Ketchum's Leadership Communication Monitor, clear, transparent communication topped the table of desired key leadership behaviors. A whopping 84-percent said effective communication is extremely important to strong leadership, while 48-percent even rated it as the number one factor. Tough decision-making, leading by example and calm crisis-handling followed immediately behind. It's also better to know - the study also revealed that globally, many feel the number one action leaders should take to restore confidence in 2012 is to be open and honest about the nature and scale of the challenge ahead (57% US; 52% Europe v s. 43% China). Only 17-percent preferred leaders to spare them the full picture to avoid panic. As far as source of leadership credibility for corporations is concerned, trustworthiness ranked number one, above quality of management and financial strength. In order to win that trust, the report found that the personal “presence” and involvement of a leader in communicating was vital. Perhaps not so surprisingly, communication via face-to-face and traditional media left social media trailing. Face-to-face contact provided the greatest source of leadership credibility (50-percent), followed by televised speeches (43-percent), broadcast media (41-percent) and print media (38-percent). Digital platforms and social media lagged behind, with blogs at 20-percent, Facebook at 16-percent, advertising at 13-percent and Twitter at just 8-percent.

Meanwhile, in Singapore...

Compared to other parts of the world, Singaporean political leaders demonstrate the most effective leadership domestically and internationally compared to other types of leaders. Amongst Singaporeans, leadership skills that matter include the ability to handle an issue or crisis calmly (68-percent), to lead by example (66-percent), to communicate in an open and transparent way (65-percent), and also be able to articulate a clear long term vision (63-percent). Respondents also feel that the most important action any leader needs to take to restore confidence during challenging economic times is to be open and honest about challenges (65-percent). Over half of Singaporeans (57-percent) state that effective leadership from business leaders will be very important in terms of navigating the unstable economic future. Most leaders seem to be moving in the right direction, with more than one third of Singaporeans having greater confidence in business (40-percent) and political leaders (36-percent) navigating through the economic crisis within their country compared to one year ago. Eight in ten Singaporeans (80-percent) stated that effective communication was extremely important to leadership. When Singaporeans form their views on leaders and leadership, channels that allow for both visual and audio content, such as broadcast media (48-percent) in-person contact (49-percent) and televised speeches (47-percent) are seen as most credible. Bizarrely, Singaporeans view press releases (57%) as the most credible communication sources when forming opinions about leaders. Online sources such as Twitter (6-percent), blogs (25-percent) and other social media platforms (14-percent) are all much less credible. Check out this infographic for more information on the study.

Daniel Goh is the founder and chief editor of Young | Upstarts, as well as an F&B entrepreneur. Daniel has a background in public relations, and is interested in issues in entrepreneurship, small business, marketing, public relations and the online space. He can be reached at daniel [at] youngupstarts [dot] com.

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