New Survey Shows Worldwide Demise Of Leadership Skills Due To COVID

COVID header

How has the pandemic affected leadership skills around the world?

It’s a question that I asked myself recently and I was not talking about the political parties either!

Here at MTD Training we’re fortunate to run an ongoing and free leadership assessment that is open to managers from all different countries, backgrounds and industries.

96 different leadership skills are benchmarked within the assessment and all managers receive a personalised report of their findings.

So I asked my team to access our database and to separate out the leadership assessments taken during the COVID months of 1st March 2020 to 31st August 2021.

I also asked them to take any data that we had prior to the pandemic to compare and contrast leadership skills pre COVID and today.

Highlights

  • United Kingdom Below World Average For Leadership Skills
  • Managers Lack Developing People Skills
  • Decision Making Skills Impacted Worst Due To COVID
  • Accountancy Industry Had Lowest Scores For Leadership Capability
  • European Managers Outscored Their UK Counterparts
  • Managing Performance Skills Worst Impacted In The UK
  • Retail Industry Had Highest Score In The UK
  • Managers In The USA Outscored The UK/Europe Combined

Survey Results Menu

Worldwide Leadership Results

During the pandemic months 4,762 managers completed the leadership assessment and the year before that, 1,442 managers had completed the same. Below are the overall average scores out of 100 for both groups.

You’ll notice that there was a decrease in leadership scores of 1.3%.

Reduction In Leadership Scores

Below illustrates the reduction of 1.3% in scores pre-pandemic and during the pandemic months measured.


Which Leadership Skill Was Rock Bottom?

Observations

  • Leaders viewed their communication skills (79.9%) as the strongest during the pandemic months
  • Leaders viewed their developing people skills (72.7%) the weakest during the pandemic months
  • Decision making skills were the worst impacted due to the pandemic (-2.4%)
  • Building relationship skills were the least impacted due to the pandemic (-0.6%)

Impact of COVID on Worldwide Leadership Skills


A Quick Leadership Reality Check

What are you doing right now?

Within each leadership assessment were a number of questions around what the manager was doing during the past 4 weeks.

We wanted to know whether they were demonstrating successful leadership behaviours in that moment. All of these questions were related to the previous 4 weeks.

?

Have you been acting
as a role model?

?

Have you been
coaching not telling?

?

Have you been seeking the views
from your people?

?

Have you been
communicating regularly?

?

Have you offered support
to your people?

?

Have you held regular
121’s with your staff?

?

Have you praised your
people regularly?

?

Have your meetings been
focused and productive?

Were managers foregoing their management and leadership duties due to the pandemic?

Did they even have the opportunity to lead effectively with so much furlough, redundancies, mental health, home working, staffing level challenges and so on?

A reduction of 2.9% is significant in scores.

If you couple that with the observations from the section above where managers also had a reduction in the quality of their decision-making skills of -2.4% you could potentially look at the fact that a lot of managers were probably “doing the do” and moving into crisis mode.

One alternative is that they did not have clear leadership and guidance themselves. After all, we were all making it up during the pandemic, weren’t we?


Worldwide Leadership Skills By Industry

How did COVID impact leadership skills in different industries?

We know that the hospitality industry got hit massively in terms of the lockdown restrictions but did the managers working in this sector see a dip in their leadership skills or did they improve because of the circumstances?

Below is an analysis of the various industries of the leaders that took the leadership assessment.

Observations

  • The Accountancy industry had the lowest overall scores with an average of 66%
  • Airlines/Airports/Aviation took a hit too at just 69.6%
  • Management Consultants, Banks and the Pharma were the top-ranking industries

Worldwide Leadership Skills By Country

Minimum leaders surveyed = 80.

Observations

  • The UAE had the highest scores overall with an average of 81.8%
  • Nepal has the lowest score of 62.2%
  • The United Kingdom (74.6%) scored lower than the worldwide average (75.8%)

UK Leadership Results

During the pandemic months 938 managers from the UK completed the leadership assessment and the year before that, 742 managers had completed the same. Below are the overall average scores out of 100 for both groups.

You’ll notice that there was a decrease in leadership scores of 1.5%.

Reduction In UK Leadership Scores

Below illustrates the reduction of 1.5% in scores pre-pandemic and during the pandemic months measured.

Observations

  • Across 96 different leadership skills the average score decreased by 1.5% overall. This was worse than the worldwide average decrease of 1.3%

Which Leadership Skill Came
Out On Top In The UK?

Observations

  • Communication skills were top at 79.8%
  • Developing people was bottom at 69.8%

Observations

  • Managing performance took the biggest hit (-2.8%), followed by decision making (-2.5%) and continuous improvement (-2.0%)
  • Communication skills (-0.3%) and building relationships had the smallest hit (-0.4%)

Impact of COVID on UK Leadership Skills


UK Leadership Skills By Industry

Which industries came out on top in terms of scores during the pandemic months?

Below is an analysis of the various industries of the leaders that took the leadership assessment.

Minimum assessments taken = 20

Observations

  • The Accountancy industry had the lowest overall scores with an average of 58.6%
  • Was it a surprise that retail came out on top? Especially during a very hard time for the industry.

Did The UK’s Leadership Skills Take A Bigger Hit?

We took the difference in scores pre v during pandemic for the UK and the rest of the world to see if the UK had taken a bigger hit.

The answer was yes!

In 9 of the 11 areas benchmarked the leadership skills within the UK took the biggest hit during COVID


A Quick Reality Check

What are you doing right now?

Within each leadership assessment were a number of questions around what the manager was doing during the past 4 weeks.

We wanted to know whether they were demonstrating successful leadership behaviours in that moment. All of these questions were related to the previous 4 weeks.

?

Have you been acting
as a role model?

?

Have you been
coaching not telling?

?

Have you been seeking the views
from your people?

?

Have you been
communicating regularly?

?

Have you offered
support to your people?

?

Have you held regular
121’s with your staff?

?

Have you praised
your people regularly?

?

Have your meetings been
focused and productive?

The Brexit Leadership Challenge

UK v EUROPE

DURING THE PANDEMIC

We all love a Brexit comparison, don’t we?

So how did the UK’s managers fair against their European counterparts?

Overall, Europe outscored the UK in 10 of the 11 areas measured and had an overall higher score of +1.5%

UK v EUROPE

Observations

  • Europe outscored the UK in 10 of the 11 areas measured.
  • Noticeable wins were:
    • Managing Meetings +4.1
    • Managing Performance +3.4
    • Developing People +3.3
  • The one area that the UK outscored Europe was in Decision Making +1.3

UK & EUROPE v USA

Let’s compare how the UK & Europe combined, faired against the USA in our very own Ryder Cup!

Overall the USA had a higher score of +1.9%

UK & EUROPE v USA

Observations

  • USA outscored UK & Europe in all 11 areas measured.
  • Noticeable wins were in:
    • Leadership Skills +3.0
    • Customer Focus +2.8
    • Building Relationships +2.4

Additional Information

Please feel free to use any of the research gathered within this survey. You do not need to seek permission to use any of the tables or images contained within this research. All we ask is that you cite the source and link back to this article for completeness and context. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask us.


Thanks again,
Sean
Sean

Sean McPheat
Managing Director
MTD Training   | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

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Originally published: 22 September, 2021



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