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Few Individual Contributors Seen to Have Great Influence


Most individual contributors are believed to lack a great deal of leadership ability or influence over others, according to a survey of executives and managers from more than 700 organizations by American Management Association (AMA), a world leader in talent development.

Individual contributors were defined as employees who may have no direct reports or formal leadership position but whose expertise is important for the enterprise’s success.

Asked to estimate the percentage of influential contributors in their organization, a plurality of respondents said fewer than 10%, while a clear majority said fewer than 20%. Some respondents estimate that fewer than 5% may be said to have unusual influence within the organization.

Take a guess, what proportion of individual contributors at your organization demonstrate an unusual degree of leadership or influence on others even without having a management position or title?

15% Fewer than 5 percent
26% Fewer than 10 percent
23% Fewer than 20 percent
11% Fewer than 30 percent
18% More than 30 percent
7% Don’t know

The findings are disappointing, but convincing, believes Sam Davis, Vice President of AMA’s onsite group training. “Our survey wanted to get an estimate of those that demonstrate unusual leadership or influence beyond their formal role. At the end of the day, these may be key players who get things done despite having no direct management authority.”

Individual contributors may at times be taken for granted by senior management, according to Davis. “The survey also found that one in three organizations say they’re growing more aware of the benefit of developing such people and expanding their leadership competencies. It used to be that when T&D programs were scoped out, individual contributors were overlooked, but that’s changing as more organizations become less hierarchical and more collaborative.”

Davis observed that the effort to develop individual contributors is not a matter of fairness. “It’s good business for companies to stretch these individuals, to encourage them to reach beyond what they consider their limited area of responsibility and play a bigger part in the success of the whole enterprise. And there are programs created for just this purpose.”

The survey was completed in January 22, 2014 and respondents consisted of 721 senior-level business, human resources, management professionals and employees drawn from the AMA database of contacts.

About AMA
American Management Association (www.amanet.org) is a world leader in talent development, advancing the skills of individuals to drive business

success. AMA’s approach to improving performance combines experiential learning—learning through doing—with opportunities for ongoing professional growth at every step of one’s career. AMA supports the goals of individuals and organizations through a complete range of products and services, including classroom and live online seminars, eLearning programs, webcasts, webinars, podcasts, corporate and government solutions, business books and research. Organizations worldwide, including the majority of the Fortune 500, turn to AMA as their trusted partner in professional development and draw upon its experience to enhance skills, abilities and knowledge with noticeable results from day one.

AMA is one of the most widely recognized leaders in business training, having provided corporate training solutions for over 95 years. From leadership, communication and managerial training to sales, customer service and analytical skills, AMA has developed a vast array of content and training solutions to help individuals and organizations achieve business results . Each year, AMA delivers thousands of seminars and courses across the United States. With courses offered in a  classroom near you or live online, AMA is a flexible, convenient resource for all of your organization's talent development needs. AMA also offers customized solutions based on your specific talent development requirements.