Leadership in the news monthly review April 2016

Business leadership themes reported in the global newspapers in April 2016


Leadership Issues manually searches for articles of interest on business leadership in over 50 leading online international newspapers covering all continents, and posts links on the website and Twitter. At the close of each month, the articles are reviewed and clustered into key workplace leadership themes including: leadership characteristics, environment/engagement, development/succession, innovation/future, technology, practice/skills and diversity.

There were three dominant themes reported in the global news last month (April 2016):
1. The skills/practice of leadership (32% of the total assessed articles)
2. Leadership engagement (22% of the total assessed articles)
3. leadership development (12.5% of the total assessed articles)

Themes not included in the leader table were to do with leadership characteristics, diversity, recruitment, innovation/future trends, technology and change (which made up the remaining percentage).

Key headlines:

Published articles on the skills and practice of leadership doubled last month and the theme tops the leader table for the first time since January 2016

Published articles on leadership engagement fell by 12%

Leadership development last featured in the leader table in June 2015

Diversity is absent from the leader table for the second consecutive month (8% of all global news on business leadership in April was to do with diversity)

Published articles on business leadership in the global news falling sharply – content declined by 30% last month and has halved since February 2016

There was a small increase in articles on recruitment last month

2016 trend:

A few articles stood out last month.

There were a number of surveys published last month on leadership engagement some of which appear to contradict each other. An Edelman “Trust Barometer” global survey reports that one in three people do not trust their employer. LinkedIn and Mars drinks published a study which points to 50 percent of US workers feeling disengaged (this is consistent with Gallup surveys). This is directly contradicted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey which states that US workers are the happiest they have been in ten years. This places a few question marks around the validity of such surveys: survey results can be impacted by the way the questions are framed, the timing of the survey, the participating organisations/countries, the pre-conceptions of the survey architects et cetera.

HBR published an interesting article by Ron Ashkenas and Robert Hausmann entitled Leadership Development should focus on experiments. They argue that leadership development is enhanced when a real business challenge is blended with leadership programmes. In my experience, participants do not always complete such assignments. Using learning contracts, involving the supervisor, making it part of the participant´s individual performance target, and having a formal presentation to a senior leader with a graduate ceremony are just a few ways to ensure the participant completes the assignment.

Two interesting articles on empathy appeared in Inc. in April. Justin Bariso´s article The 1 Lesson That Will Sharpen Your Emotional Intelligence suggests “walking a mile” in another person’s shoes.  Relating with other people  through self-experience is more profound, suggests Bariso, than sympathy. Daniel Goleman also explores the theme of empathy in The One Thing You Need to Be an Effective Leader. He expresses it in terms of connecting with the “emotional climate” and building  “empathy muscles”. Both authors look at practical ways to develop empathy skills.

Look out for daily posts on leadership issues on Twitter and view the full April archive here.

Leadership Issues editorial  2016