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The growing gap between leader goals and achievements

It’s time to close the Leader Achievement Gap (LAG) to help organizations thrive.

Last spring, Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon ordered employees back to the office full time, citing the magic that happens when junior employees work side-by-side with more experienced bankers.

This summer, feeling overworked and undervalued, junior employees at the company quit en masse, leaving plans at risk and senior bankers in a stressful situation.

We don’t know the full story but we do know this: In a world where change has radically accelerated and many of the ground rules have been discarded, today’s leaders must respond. In a time of reckoning, pressure on leaders to do things differently mounts. It’s not just about what gets done but how. It’s not just about profit and loss; employees and stakeholders expect leaders to do the right things for the workforce and the greater good.

To improve creativity and innovation, leaders must cultivate diverse teams and honor different perspectives. To win the hearts and minds of employees, they must create a culture of work that works for everyone. Leaders must cast off their armor and communicate with transparency, vulnerability and kindness. If they want to win over influencers, prospects or shareholders, they need to communicate a unique point of view with conviction. It’s no wonder large companies are prioritizing social skills above all else in their search for C-suite execs.

On top of it all, leaders are expected to drive transformational change. Solving immediate problems is not enough; leaders must build to meet a different, rapidly approaching future.

Today’s leaders face a very tall order.

The good news? They want to meet the moment.

Leaders want to build diverse teams that thrive. They want to find new ways to engage their people and bring out their best. The senior leaders we talk to want to set bold goals, solve big problems and make a big impact–in their companies, their communities and society as a whole.  They want to take risks and be recognized and rewarded as a change maker.

The bad news? More and more, leaders are struggling to achieve their goals.

What is LAG?

We see the phenomenon so often, especially in large tech companies, that we’ve decided to name it: the leadership achievement gap, or LAG. LAG represents the widening gap between leader aspirations and their achievements. Between the really big stuff they want to do and their ability to get it done. As leaders aspire to do more, their capacity and capabilities struggle to keep pace. Unmet potential is growing.

What’s holding leaders and their organizations back? What’s keeping them from reaching their loftiest goals? Executives speak of common pain points and sources of frustration:

But these pain points are really just symptoms of a larger underlying problem. At the heart of LAG is a faulty foundation—a very common set of fractures that make it difficult for any leader, or their organizations, to thrive. By no means are these challenges the only cause of LAG, but they are pervasive in companies of all sizes and make doing anything harder, especially achieving big goals. So what are these common fault lines? Here are a few to get started:

Leaders have always wanted to excel, but in a time of crisis and reckoning, they want to do more, do it better, and drive real change—for their teams, their companies, their industries, communities and society. The same old struggles of inefficiency, complexity, unpredictability and lack of clarity are weighing them down and keeping them from creating the healthy, effective work cultures that employees need to achieve their goals.

It’s time to shore up foundations so leaders can build organizations that thrive. To close the gap between aspiration and achievement. To create work cultures where every person feels they belong and are empowered to do their best work. It’s time to eliminate LAG.

Sparklos is a technology and consulting services firm that partners with leaders to help them close the Leadership Achievement Gap in the right way—authentically and in line with company values. The Spark Leadership Operating System (SparkLOS) is a comprehensive approach to leading teams that combines proven best practices, workflows, and tools; strategic consulting, and a customized team of key roles, including Chief of Staff, Business Manager, and Executive Communications Leader, to amplify a leader’s impact and drive positive change.

Learn more about Sparklos and our approach to helping leaders succeed.

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