Leadership plays a big role in determining the success of an organization.
Effective and accountable leadership can help propel a company forward. On the flip side, a failure to live up to the expectations of leadership can have cascading and lingering effects across an entire organization.
Bridging the Leadership Accountability Gap
Today’s infographic, from bestselling author Vince Molinaro, is a revealing look at the impact that leadership accountability can have on an organization.
Pre-order Vince Molinaro’s new book, Accountable Leaders
The Value of Leadership Accountability
The majority of people within organizations understand the value of leadership accountability – yet, in practice, many leaders fail to deliver on that promise.
A global survey of over 2,000 HR leaders and senior executives revealed that a mere 27% believed they had a strong leadership culture. Two-thirds of those surveyed believed that leadership accountability is a critical issue within their organization, while only one-third are satisfied with the degree of leadership accountability demonstrated at in their workplace.
What impact does this leadership accountability gap have on the performance of a company? As it turns out, a lot.
The Critical Link Between Accountability and Performance
Once survey responses were organized into three distinct categories – low performers, average performers, and industry leaders – interesting trends began to emerge.
Companies in the “industry leaders” category were far more likely to have a culture of leadership accountability. In fact, industry leaders were twice as likely to have clearly established expectations for their leadership team than respondents in the average or lower performing categories. These high performing companies were also far more likely to:
- Have formal succession programs to help identify high-potential leaders
- Have practices in place to foster more diverse leadership teams
- Implement development programs to effectively build the capacity of leaders
Industry leading companies had leadership teams that ranked higher in a number of key areas. Leaders at high performing companies were far more likely to:
- Understand customer needs and desires
- Understand external trends affecting the business
- Demonstrate a high level of emotional maturity
- Demonstrate passion for executing on the company’s vision
In many of these areas, the gap between industry leaders and the other categories is significant, which presents a compelling case for embracing leadership accountability as a core value.
Building a Strong Leadership Culture: Questions to Ask
The first step to building a culture of leadership accountability is self reflection. Here are questions leaders can ask to help assess how their organization is doing:
- Is leadership accountability a critical priority in your organization?
- Has your organization set clear leadership expectations for leaders?
- Do you believe your leaders at all levels, are fully committed to their leadership roles?
- Have you built a strong and aligned leadership culture across your organization?
- Does your organization have the courage to identify and address mediocre leadership at an individual and team level?
Answering “no” to any of the questions above means there’s an opportunity to develop a more accountable and effective leadership team.
Only three things happen naturally in organizations. Friction, confusion and underperformance. Everything else requires leadership.
– Peter Drucker
Visualizing Gender Diversity in Corporate America
The gender gap in corporate America is still prevalent, especially in leadership roles. In 2021, only 8.2% of Fortune 500 CEOs were female.
There’s been a massive push to increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
However, it appears corporate America still has a ways to go, particularly when it comes to diverse representation in corporate leadership roles. In 2021, only 8.2% of Fortune 500 CEOs were female. Of those females, 85% of them were white.
This graphic by Zainab Ayodimeji highlights the current state of diversity in corporate America, reminding us that there are still significant gender and racial gaps.
Five Decades of Fortune 500 CEOs
Since 1955, Fortune Magazine has released its annual Fortune 500 list that ranks the 500 largest U.S. companies, ranked by total revenue earned each fiscal year.
For the first 17 years of its publication, there were no female CEOs on the Fortune 500. Then in 1972, Katharine Graham became CEO of the Washington Post, making her the first-ever female CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
Following Graham, a few other women joined the ranks, such as Marion Sandler, co-CEO of Golden West Financial Corporation, and Linda Wachner, CEO of Warnaco Group. But apart from those few outliers, Fortune 500 CEOs remained almost exclusively male for the next few decades.
At the turn of the millennium, things started to change. Women-led companies started to appear more frequently on the Fortune 500. Here’s a breakdown that shows the number of women CEOs on the list, from 1999 to 2021:
|Year||Fortune 500 # of Women CEOs||% of Total|
Slowly, women of color started to appear on the list as well. In 1999, Andrea Jung, the CEO of Avon, became the first East Asian female CEO in the Fortune 500. And in 2009, Xerox CEO Ursula Burns was the first Black woman to become CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
By 2021, 41 of the Fortune 500 companies were led by women—8.2% of the overall list.
While this increasing total is a clear trend, it’s important to note that women make up nearly 50% of the global population, meaning genders are still not equally represented in corporate leadership.
The Financial Benefits of Diverse Workplaces
Along with the number of societal and cultural benefits that come with a diverse workplace, research indicates that diversity can also be financially beneficial to corporations, and enhance a company’s bottom line.
A study by the Council of Foreign Relations found that gender equality in the workforce could add up to $28 trillion in global GDP.
According to the Council of Foreign Relations, a number of policy changes are needed to help close the gender gap in the workforce, such as legislation to promote women’s access to capital and financial services, or tax credits for childcare support.
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