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a crisis of leadership

The global COVID pandemic caused the tide to go out on many leaders. Across our countries, businesses, and communities it exposed the shortfalls of the typical, ho-hum, garden variety version of leadership that we commonly find.

It’s true that the dissatisfying leadership we tolerated beforehand was nothing new. The crisis of the pandemic combined with other issues such as the climate debate and social upheaval represented by Black Lives Matter and other movements simply focused a spotlight on it. These circumstances revealed why leadership matters and when leadership is needed most. Especially in our daily lives as we battled the volatility, uncertainty and complexity the last year bought upon us all.

The challenges and opportunities we face in the near future will only intensify the attention we pay to the quality of leadership we have, compared to that which we need.


A quick review of media commentaries and state-of-the nation reports show we are increasingly dissatisfied with much of the typical leadership we are experiencing in our lives, with the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Spring Update showing a significant drop in trust of our national leaders.

There is good reason for our lack of trust it seems. The quality of leadership we experience on a daily basis in many workplaces often falls short of our expectations and needs. For example, in their 2021 Global Leadership Forecast Report, Development Dimensions International found that only one in four HR professionals rated the quality of leaders in their organisation as ‘high’. This means that of the 1743 organisations covered by the study, 75% of them are populated with average, ordinary or just downright poor leadership.

Furthermore, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Professor of Psychology at University College London and Columbia University, suggests that up to half of our leaders are not sufficiently competent to do their jobs properly. This view is backed up by other studies such as those by Bill Gentry from the Centre for Creative Leadership, showing that ineffective leaders make up half of today’s organisational management pool.

The verdict

There is no doubt. Houston, we have a problem.

The simple fact is, that if the average, typical or 'ordinary' leader is less competent and effective than we would like, we simply need more 'extraordinary' leaders.

That's why over the coming weeks I’ll be drawing from my soon to be released book, Xtraordinary: The Art and Science of Remarkable Leadership, to paint a clear and compelling picture of what we can all gain from better leadership in our teams, organisations, institutions and communities.


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