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Executive Leadership: Key Findings and Recommendations

16.09.2010 Bookmark and Share


Online social networking

Over 40% of the respondents is active on online social networks. This brings home the importance of improving and testing (written) communicative skills, especially when engaging professional networks. Paper is patient, but the internet is relentless and everywhere and mistakes are quickly spotted and ruthlessly dealt with by the media.

Writing speeches

90 percent of responding executives claim to write their own speeches and can communicate in the best interests of the company. Professional speech writers are hired only for special occasions, not for day to day communication.


Being authentic and integrity are considered of greater importance than personal responsibility for collective results by more than half the respondents.

Executive skills

Most valuable skills are leadership and relating to people, followed by strategic vision and communication skills. Handling and understanding financial reporting, entrepreneurship, and risk management are considered implicit leadership qualities. Systems Thinking (iso Systems) - to simplify complex structures, goals, ambitions, and context, thus creating an understanding of the whole - is considered to be the most important skill for an executive by only few respondents.

Crisis management today

It seems clear top executives have strategic vision, considering the opportunities they claim to see due to the financialand economic turbulence. The majority considers the current climate an opportunity to evaluate the company and ponder its sustainability, continuity and profitability. Remarkably 53% of the respondents claim to behave and perform no different from the way they did before the current crisis. Strangely selection and retaining future managers is currently considered low priority.


Increasing importance of communicative skills among executives must reflect in increased focus on these skills in the selection and assessment process of executives. As communicative skills are very much tied to the personality of the leader, specialised tests would be warranted for objective assessments. Communicative skills go beyond the leader's verbal and non-verbal communication. With the quickly growing use and relevance of online social media, the participation of executives in this arena will grow and become increasingly important. Understanding social media and the role it plays in (corporate) communications should become part of assessments and ultimately part of the selection procedure of executives. Integrity, trustworthiness, authority, and authenticity are core competencies of executives. Communication itself cannot change something flawed into something grand. Increased transparency, not in the least due to new media, quickly reveals an executive's true colors. The statement by the far majority of responding executives that authenticity is considered to be one of a leader's most important qualities may be a cause for concern. Increasing transparancy demands a company's thorough grasp on their communication. A leader's personal opinion and the company's interests may not always align, with the potentially harmful results of inconsistent and incoherent communications. Acknowledging this risk is important, and as a result a candidate's personality should become part and parcel of the selection and assessment process of executives.

Ali Midillili
Sep 2010
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