Plus: The Top Cause of Failed Leadership and Another Drop in Jobless Claims.
Leading Economic Indicators Improve in September
The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the United States increased 0.9 percent to 117.4 in October, following a 0.1 percent gain in September and 0.3 percent increase in August. The faster pace of growth indicates that recessionary risks have declined and that the U.S. economy is likely to grow through the first months of 2012.
“The LEI is pointing to continued growth this winter, possibly even gaining a little momentum by spring,” Ken Goldstein, an economist at the research group, explains. “The lack of confidence has been the biggest obstacle in generating forward momentum, domestically or globally. As long as it lasts, there is a glimmer of hope.”
The Conference Board’s LEI weighs 10 key indicators to track business cycle peaks and troughs and gauge the outlook for the next six to nine months. In October, nine of the 10 indicators made positive contributions: building permits; the interest rate spread; average weekly manufacturing hours; stock prices; the real money supply; average weekly claims for unemployment-insurance benefits; consumer expectations; manufacturers’ new orders for consumer goods and materials; and manufacturers’ new orders for non-defense capital goods.
“All told, the components of the index signaled that the economy is steadily, if still slowly, strengthening,” the Associated Press reports. “Many economists said the October gain in the leading indicators offered further assurance that the economy is in no imminent danger of slipping back into a recession, so long as Europe doesn’t fall into a severe downturn.”
Meanwhile, the Coincident Economic Index rose 0.2 percent to 103.5 in October, and the Lagging Economic Index climbed 0.6 percent to reach 110.9 for the month.
“Gains in consumer spending, manufacturing and homebuilding, combined with fewer job losses, point to an economy that is weathering the turbulence in financial markets caused by the debt crisis in Europe,” Bloomberg News notes. “Nonetheless, a 9 percent jobless rate and political gridlock over deficit-cutting have hurt confidence, which may be a hurdle to a further pickup in the pace of growth.”
No. 1 Cause of Failed Leadership: Poor Relationships
The main qualities that erode confidence in leadership are as revealing as those that strengthen it. Today, the top reason for a leader’s failure is an inability or unwillingness to build relationships and a team environment, according to survey findings by Right Management.
“Failure to build a team or relationships was singled out by the most (40 percent) survey respondents,” Bram Lowsky, executive VP of Right Management, said in an announcement of the findings last week. “Second was mismatch for the corporate culture cited by 26 percent. Remarkably, not delivering acceptable results was named by just 11 percent of respondents as among the main three causes for failure.”
In a survey of 1,400 CEOs and HR professionals worldwide, the talent and career management organization also asked respondents to identify the “predictors” of leadership success. The following qualities were most frequently cited: fit with company values and culture (68 percent); interpersonal skills (66 percent); motivation to lead (62 percent); and previous experience (57 percent).
“What emerges from the survey analysis is that leadership success is increasingly dependent on getting along with others in the organization as well as with one’s own team,” according to Lowsky. “A leader must be able to connect, build relationships and be flexible enough to adapt to the corporate culture.”
Jobless Claims Continue to Drop
New initial jobless claims decreased in the latest week reported, marking the third consecutive week of improving conditions in the labor market. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, seasonally adjusted unemployment claims for the week ending November 12 fell by 5,000 to a total of 388,000, down from the previous week’s revised total of 393,000. The four-week moving average, which provides a broader measure of employment trends, also fell by 4,000 to 396,750.
Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast claims to climb to 397,000 for the week. Although unemployment claims have fluctuated widely in recent months, the latest series of decreases has brought jobless claims and the four-week moving average to their lowest levels since early April.
“Amid the Great Recession, weekly initial claims had risen as high as 659,000 in March 2009. As the job market started to improve, they eventually retreated to as low as 375,000 in February this year,” CNN Money reports. “But then the economy was hit by several shocks, including the earthquake in Japan and rapidly rising prices for raw materials like oil. The jobs recovery slowed in the meantime, but now that the effects of those temporary shocks are fading, various readings on the economy — including initial claims — are improving once again.”
Initial claims have now been below the 400,000 mark typically associated with healing in the job market for the second week in a row. Continuing claims, which mark the number of Americans who have already filed for unemployment benefits, also fell by 57,000 in the latest week reported, bringing the total to 3.6 million, the lowest level since September 2008.