What 82% of Leaders Get Wrong

5 Essential Leadership Practices for Sustainable High Performance

By David Yesford

It’s disconcerting to consider that merely 18% of managers demonstrate a high level of talent for managing others, because the flip side of that statistic means 82% of managers are not effective at leading people. While this statistic is startling, it is really not hard to understand.

The Challenge

When you talk to mid-level leaders and ask them to look back over their careers, most would tell you they didn’t necessarily aspire to become a manager. Their focus was on their chosen function (accounting, engineering, operations, etc.), they performed very well, and that “got them promoted.” What’s the problem?

If individuals have given little thought to becoming a manager, it is very likely they have given little thought to what it means to be a leader. These managers performed well enough as a first-level manager to follow the natural progression to move into a mid-level leader role. The problem is they arrive with little or no idea of what it takes to succeed at that next level. In a mid-level leader role, just achieving performance goals is not sufficient to be effective. The real challenge is how to lead people to perform in a way that increases their ability to do it themselves.

Mid-level leaders need a clear vision on what they are trying to accomplish as a leader, as well as a solid game plan to utilize their talents to achieve and sustain that vision.

Only 18% of managers demonstrate a high level of talent for managing others.

— Gallup Poll, 2016

We should stop letting endless statistics and the latest leadership gimmick blind us to the most basic human motives such as respect, meaning, and fulfillment. People leaving the office with a sense of fulfillment every day will want to come back, focus on tough projects, and work hard: their intrinsic motivation will drive them to continue doing their best day after day, year after year.

— “The Real Crisis In Leadership,” Forbes, Sept. 9, 2018

David Yesford

David Yesford, Senior Vice President of Wilson Learning Worldwide Inc. and Managing Director of Wilson Learning APAC, has more than 30 years of experience developing and implementing human performance improvement solutions around the world. He brings valuable experience, strategic direction, and global perspective to his work with clients. Mr. Yesford is an active member of the Wilson Learning Global Executive Board, with current responsibility at a global level. Over the years, he has held strategic roles in our core content areas of sales and leadership, as well as e-learning and strategic consulting. He has also held managing director positions in both China and India.

Mr. Yesford is the contributing author of several books, including Win-Win Selling, Versatile Selling, The Social Styles Handbook, and The Sales Training Book 2. He has also been published in numerous business publications throughout the United States, Europe, Latin America, and Asia Pacific. Mr. Yesford frequently speaks at international conferences and summits, focusing on issues such as sales and sales strategy, leadership, employee and customer engagement, brand, and strategy implementation.