Senior management infighting holds businesses back

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Almost 60% of business leaders have concerns over how senior management work as a team, a study has revealed

Out of the 1,200 senior managers surveyed for the London Business School’s 2017 Business Leaders Survey, 58% said they had doubts over executives’ ability to work together, while 54% said that the main reason they're unable to reach their full potential was due to day-to-day delivery. Other issues included a lack of strategic thinking (45%) and an inability to adapt to change (35%).

Randall S Peterson, academic director of London Business School, said these primary concerns were interconnected. “Importantly, these top five issues are all intertwined," he said. "Disengaged employees are unable to put strategy into place effectively. The commercial imperatives are clear: without an effective strategy which the workforce fully supports, organisations suffer and results fall."

In-fighting, regular conflict, and a focus on personal agendas were blamed for management’s difficulty in working as a team.

The research also explored how change was driven within organisations. Almost 80% of respondents said it was mandated by senior managers, while 10% said that it was driven by people lower down in an organisation, and 9% said their organisation resists change.

Peterson said that the findings set a worrying example for how employees should conduct themselves at work. “It’s no surprise that respondents feel they are struggling with executing strategy, building engagement and creating meaningful change in their organisation,” he said. “Behaviour at the top of an organisation informs how individuals further down lead and behave, as well as influencing organisational performance.

“Effective conflict resolution is critical to building trust for the future in any group or organisation. This means all parties need to accept a decision as legitimate implementation.”

The study surveyed 12,648 individuals in senior positions across twelve sectors. Participants came from 98 different countries, with 30% from the UK.
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