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HR leaders must develop “complementary leadership” to boost organisational performance

HR leaders must develop “complementary leadership” to boost organisational performance

Half of today’s leaders feel ill-equipped to take on their expanded roles and lead their organisation in the future, a new study finds.

To tackle this crises of confidence, Gartner’s Reshaping Leadership to Prepare for the Future report suggests HR leaders should create an environment built on “complementary leadership”. This is described as the “intentional partnership” between groups of leaders to share responsibilities based on complementary skillsets.

“We are seeing organisations overhaul their leadership models, hoping the right combination of competencies will enable leaders to tackle their growing responsibilities,” said Sari Wilde, managing vice president in the Gartner HR practice. “Unfortunately, relying on leadership models alone isn’t enough.”

She continued: “Our research found that leaders are not always best-positioned to manage every responsibility they are tasked with; instead, the best leaders identify others who have a stronger grasp of skills at which they are weak and share responsibilities with them.”

According to Gartner, complementary leadership can provide a big boost to leaders’ performance. Its analysis indicated leaders who use complementary leadership saw a 60 per cent increase in their teams’ performance and a 40 per cent increase in their own performance.

The performance gains highlighted in the research are impressive and show what a difference such an approach can make to the bottom line

Leaders need to know their current level of skills proficiency so they can prioritise what they need to develop and where they need help. Today’s leadership assessments can be misleading because they don’t include the right inputs and prioritise results based on the wrong metrics.

Rather than evaluating leaders against organisation-wide metrics that are too broad, leaders should focus on identifying locally relevant development priorities, the analyst noted.

HR leaders can serve as the catalyst to help leaders identify and make the most of partnerships. Rather than waiting for individual leaders to develop all of the necessary skills, HR must help them find the right partners to share their responsibilities, particularly in the face of filling urgent skill needs, added Gartner.

These leader partnerships allow each leader to specialise in core skills, develop much needed skills and lead in critical areas. This type of partnering, reportedly, can increase leaders’ skill preparedness by 54 per cent.

Richard Chiumento, director of Rialto Consultancy, said that the findings align with the shift towards far more collaborative leadership and there can be no doubt that complementary leadership suits the current business environment. “At a time when much is being demanded of leaders, no single person can have all the answers,” he said. “The performance gains highlighted in the research are impressive and show what a difference such an approach can make to the bottom line.”

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