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Polish business is waiting for leaders with new leadership competencies

Deloitte survey: New leadership competency model for management and supervisory boards

Warsaw, 2 June 2014

Nearly 90 percent of Polish managers indicate that broad perspectives in corporate thinking, change leadership and ability to achieve planned financial objectives are the most important and desirable leadership competencies of management board members. In turn, social capital related skills, especially those regarding human capital management, appear to be their key weakness. Deloitte’s proprietary survey has allowed building of the new leadership competency model for management and supervisory boards, first time in Poland. The model responds to current and future challenges faced by businesses in the post-crisis environment. Critical results regard the perception of female managers and their role. Our survey has indicated that presently women more favorably assess their leadership competencies and aspire to achieve top corporate positions.

In April 2014, we asked 172 high level managers from the largest Polish companies about the role of leaders in today’s business. Further, in-depth interviews were carried out with top level managers. Additionally, we carried out a nationwide survey on the sample of 1,100 Poles aged 18+ regarding the same issue.

When surveying New Leadership Competencies, two perspectives have been considered: this of management board members participating in the management routine and that of supervisory board members, whose role is focused on strategy and control. “Requirements regarding management and supervisory board members increase in the new post-crisis reality. They are expected not only to demonstrate knowledge of and commitment to financial performance, but also understanding of their firm’s position in a broad business context. The world needs leaders with skills allowing the building of stable business future, change leadership, talent development and flexibility. This is a global trend, which, as proven by our survey, is visible also in Poland”, says Iwona Georgijew, Deloitte Partner, SheXO Leader.

A group of business experts, scientists, advisors, HR and recruitment specialists indicated and defined the model of Ten Leadership Competencies important for post-crisis corporate management, to include Broad Perspective, Financial Perspective, Creating and Achieving Vision, Operational Flexibility, Change Leadership, Corporate Value Growth Focus, Effective Relationship Building, Talent Development, Making Impact and Building Value-Based Company.

As proven by Deloitte survey, nearly 90 percent of managers indicate the broad perspective, change leadership and financial perspective as the key competencies of management board members.  These are the skills managers had to work hard on in the times of global crisis.  Poles who participated in the nationwide survey shared the opinion; they considered strategic competencies, built on the understanding of the firm’s position in a broad business context, the key ones.  Leadership competencies that directly translate into financial performance are the key strength of Polish management board members, while the skills related to the building of corporate social capital and employee involvement are their key weakness.

Interestingly, the higher a manager’s position in an organizational structure, the better his/her opinion on competencies of the firm's management board members, and the opposite is equally true: the lower the position, the worse the opinion.  Holders of the lowest managerial positions scored the competencies of their management board members at 2.8 to 3.8, while middle- and top-level managers scored them at 3.3 to 4.1 in a five-level scale.

 “The difference may result from limited face-to-face contact of low-level management staff with top managers; at the same time, it may indicate a possible authority crisis.  Please note, though, that the outcome does not mean that management board members lack required competencies. Instead, it may mean they cannot demonstrate or communicate them across the organization”, says Professor Beata Krzywosz-Rynkiewicz, psychologist at University of Warmia and Mazury.

A similar case has been observed with supervisory boards.  Business people consider the competency level of supervisory board members as lower than expected.  Leadership skills related to orientation on corporate value growth and financial perspective have been the only ones evaluated as high (both received slightly over 60 percent of positive opinions).  A clear competency deficit is visible with regard to broad perspective (46 percent of managers consider this skill average, low or very low) and building a value based company (nearly 60 percent of respondents considered it average, low or very low).  “Supervisory board should enhance the management board’s focus on long-term corporate growth, despite owners being often interested in current performance only and expecting this performance to underlie the supervisory board’s evaluation of the management board. Fortunately, as demonstrated in practice, members of supervisory board are frequently perceived as business value custodians by corporate managers.  This modern understanding of their role complies with global trends and is probable to increase in future”, says Wiesław Thor, Advisor to the Management Board, Deloitte.

Further, Deloitte survey illustrates important changes in the perception of leadership competencies of females.  Regardless of their position in the organizational structure, surveyed managers tend to perceive the competencies of female management board members as better than those of males.  In a five-level scale, female skills were scored at 3.6 to 4, while male skills at 3 to 3.9. The only exception from the rule regarded financial perspective and orientation on corporate value growth, where both sexes received similar scores.  Females have received outstanding scores with regard to effective relationship building and value-based company, talent development and change leadership.  Importantly, according to experts building our new leadership competency model, these skills will be of key importance in modern business.

Male managers surveyed consider female management board members equally competent as their male peers (no material statistical differences have shown in the survey).  Interestingly, in certain areas, females tend to see their own competencies as higher than those of males.  These areas include broad perspective, operational flexibility, orientation on corporate value growth and creating and achieving vision, where females score themselves higher than males, who in turn cannot not see the difference.  


“Our survey is the first ever to indicate a significant positive difference in female self-assessment and the evaluation of leadership skills demonstrated by other females.  We may say, therefore, that Polish female managers have broken the glass ceiling and begun to notice the value they add to their companies.  If used effectively, in future the growing potential of women may become a key competitive advantage”, concluded Iwona Georgijew.

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