Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What goes down - keeps going down

At 12:01 this morning (just after midnight) on June 25th, 2008, we closed the leadership pulse dialogue. We had an record number of participants - just over 1,200 people. For a survey open about 2 weeks, that goes out every 2-3 months, to senior leaders around the world, this is not too bad. That's a 10% response rate (we had a little over 12,000 'good' emails for our core sample group).

What did we learn? Keep in mind these are data from day #1. However, we can take a look at the top line results and share some observations.

#1: Leader energy, overall, went down again. You might not be surprised. The economy is not so great, the weather is not really pleasant for summer (lots of rain here in Michigan at least), and leaders / managers are still feeling overworked and underpaid. The average energy level (on the 0 to 10 scale that we use) was 6.52, and that is 1.08 points below the reported productivity zone (between 7.60 and 8.64).

For those of you who are not familiar with the scale, energy is measured using a validated scale that goes from 0 to 10 (0=no energy; 10=overly energized and near burnout). We ask employees to report their energy and where they are most productive, and a series of longitudinal, predictive research studies resulted in understanding how to calculate and interpret the zone data (being in the zone predicts good outcomes; out of zone by more than one point results in negative outcomes).

#2: The trend data for HR confidence was quite interesting. We've been tracking (since 2003) several questions assessing the degree to which leaders are confident in their HR functions. The data reported today focus on: (1) confidence in HR overall, (2) that HR can deliver on tactical work, and (3) HR's ability to do HR strategic work. The numbers have been trending down since 2003. But today, we saw a reverse in that trend for at least two questions. Confidence in tactical work and confidence in HR overall both increased. However, confidence in HR strategic competence went down.

Is there a link? My theory, based on not only on these data but other sources of research, is that yes, there is a relationship. Leaders are not doing well themselves, and in order for them to do better (be in their own energy zones), they need HR to step up into the strategic role. On the leaders forum site,, we have some highlights of the data reported. You will see that the higher performing firms have scores that are closer to being in the zone, and they are the most confident that their HR teams are delivering on being a strategic HR function.

You probably have lots of questions. I'd ask: (1) are the high performing firms all large because, sure, they would have more HR people and probably be more strategic, or (2) could the data be biased based on the type of people responding, or (3) are there industry differences? These are all valid and good questions that we will explore over the next week

Also, I am only sharing top line results of the peripheral questions. The primary topic was relational capital. These data are very interesting (yes, I peaked), and we'll be reporting on these data too over the next week.

To all of you who participated in the leadership pulse, thanks!

If you want to learn more or read prior reports, go to

Join the leaders forum to view more detailed results and participate with colleagues in dialogue:

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