Many corporate teams operate as though stuck in a leadership bubble, according to a survey of more than 300 executives and managers conducted by AMA Enterprise, a division of American Management Association.
One-third of respondents believe their leadership is stuck in a bubble most of the time, while another half said it happens on occasion. Only 18% indicated their leadership team has not, to some degree, lost touch with the organization.
The leadership bubble phenomenon is neither new nor unique, according to the findings. Three-quarters of respondents reported that they have worked at an organization where the leadership team was out of touch and operated as though it was stuck in a bubble.
“Whether the prevalence of the bubble phenomenon is a reality or just perceived as such, employees clearly feel that leadership hasn’t bothered to pay attention to their concerns or what’s really going on in the workplace,” said Jennifer Jones, Director at AMA Enterprise, which provides organizations with assessment, measurement, and tailored training solutions.
“Therefore, simply being seen as out of touch with what’s going on in the organization becomes a critical challenge for leadership teams. If leaders appear insulated from the everyday reality of the workplace, their plans and edicts may not be taken seriously. In the end, they lose credibility…and clout. And for leadership teams, that’s not a good position from which to operate.”
The bubble problem is made worse, according to Jones, because leaders themselves are seldom aware of the situation. “In fact, a majority of respondents feel their leadership almost never realizes the presence of a communication breakdown, and that clouds everything else the team is trying to achieve.”
If you’ve experienced the bubble phenomenon, how often was the leadership team, itself, aware of the problem?
Almost Never 56%
Don't Know 1%
According to Jones, the degree to which senior leaders are exposed to the bubble phenomenon is usually a direct reflection of organizational culture. “Relationships are built through continuous, open, and honest communication. Senior leaders who find themselves surrounded with ‘yes’ men and women may not be open to hearing feedback or ideas that counter their own thinking. This undermines authentic communication, which in turn, can lead them to operate in a bubble.”
The survey was conducted March 8 to March 24, 2014. Respondents consisted of 316 senior-level business, human resources, management professionals, and employee contacts drawn from the AMA database of contacts.
With more than 90 years’ experience and headquartered in New York, American Management Association is a global leader of comprehensive talent development. AMA Enterprise, a specialized division of AMA dedicated to building corporate and government training solutions, transforms enterprise-wide talent to fuel a culture of innovation, high performance, and optimal business results.
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