What Is Needed In The Way Of Leadership In The Utility Industry? Results From A 2018 Nationwide Survey

A nationwide survey on water industry leadership was developed last summer (you were all given the site on this blog to participate).  The survey was conducted over a period of months from June 2018 to October 2018.  The survey was developed on SurveyMonkey ®.  The Florida Section of the American Water Works Association first distributed a link to the survey to their membership via email.  Two follow-up email reminders were sent.  The survey was noted in a blog (publicutilitymangemetn.com) on WordPress® given that over 2000 people view this website and most are utility related.  Finally, the 2018 Annual Conference and Exposition attendee list was acquired for $350 and three email requests were sent to the 6000 people on the list.  The survey is located in Appendix A.  A total of 41 questions were asked – several about leadership, several about their organizations, demographics and training.

For the first question, the goal was to create a pool of people we see as leaders. A series of people were listed, and it was noted that there were potentially many more.  The question asked the respondents to check three people they saw as leaders, noting that not all leaders were good people or did good things, Hitler and Stalin among them. The responses were not unexpected given prior in person workshops on this topic.  Lincoln normally comers up on top, with Roosevelt, Kennedy and Washington in the top 10.  Of interest, Dr. John Snow, Louis Pasteur and Dr. Jonas Salk were not in the top 30. The top female vote-getter was Queen Elizabeth at #17.  Among the more interesting recipients – Adolf Hitler received votes from 7.3% of the respondents, while other mentions included Joseph Stalin, Genghis Khan, Karl Marx, Attila the Hun and William Wallace.  Of note, young people were much more likely to name Martin Luther King (50%), with Lincoln second.


Table 1 Most Common Leaders


Abraham Lincoln 39.33% 129
Martin Luther King 35.67% 117
Winston Churchill 32.93% 108
George Washington 27.13% 89
John F. Kennedy 20.43% 67
Nelson Mandela 20.12% 66
Franklin Delano Roosevelt 19.21% 63
Steve Jobs 17.99% 59
Dwight Eisenhower 15.85% 52
Mahatma Ghandi 15.55% 51
Teddy Roosevelt 15.55% 51


When asked why the respondent selected the people they chose as leaders, there were 6 primary answers – all other were less than 20 percent. The goal of this question is to see what your view as the major requirements for leaders?  The answers are shown in Table 2.


Table 2 Why People chose Certain Leaders.

Inspired people 46.01% 150
Ability to bring people together 39.57% 129
Set Direction and Create a vision 39.26% 128
Made tough choices 37.42% 122
Ability to create a vision 31.60% 103
Agent for Change 27.61% 90
Great communicator 24.85% 81


Interesting stuff, but not very surprising.  As we study the answer more fully, more results will be released.


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