While the crumpled remains of the car inevitably attract the attention of the motorist passing a crash, the investigator often finds that it is the tell-tale tyre marks that provide a far more informative guide to cause. Perhaps, there is an element of ‘rubbernecking’ about the way we examine leadership, since our insatiable curiosity about the leader’s character, actions and qualities often deflect us from the fact “that more than anything it is the behaviours of followers that really defines leadership.”
Dr Lester Levy from the University of Auckland continues his introduction…
This desire to recognise the importance of followers in the leadership dynamic and to “step into the minds” of the followers led me to initiate this research project. By taking this perspective, fresh insight could be sought within the New Zealand business context. I was interested to learn how the workforce perceived their leaders, how this leadership affected them directly and the ultimate impact on their performance. Indeed, the research presented in this report reinforces how relevant followers are to leadership.
What this research reveals is a challenging picture with significant implications for New Zealand’s future productivity and competitiveness. The level of Authentic Leadership is not as high as it should be based on our findings, and could potentially undermine the future achievements and potential of the New Zealand workforce.
Our research revealed that the New Zealand leader is unlikely to encourage and acknowledge differing points of view, has low self-awareness and is resistant to change. They respect data more than the opinions of their workforce. It is as if their need to be ‘right’ overwhelms their ability to be ‘real’.
In environments where the level of Authentic Leadership is low, we found that the effects on the workforce are profound, stripping them of the very qualities that are the ingredients of success – creativity, innovation, risk-taking, openness and profound connection to the aspirations of the organisation.
I invite you to read this research report and effectively see leadership from the perspective of the New Zealand workforce, to then reflect on what is essentially “their feedback to you” and use that to challenge your most deeply held assumptions, about your own leadership.
Dr Lester Levy
Professor (Adjunct) of Leadership,
The University of Auckland Business School