Poor leadership and communication issues damage the success of teams. Here’s how MBAs can address the problem.

Poor leadership and communication issues damage the success of teams. Here’s how MBAs can address the problem.

MBAs bring a diverse spectrum of qualities to team dynamics, but more than a fifth of MBAs feel that half of the teams in which they’ve worked have not succeeded due to a lack of complementary skills. This is according to ground-breaking research from the Association of MBAs (AMBA) and The GC Index®.

The first global study of its kind, surveying 865 MBA students and graduates, found that MBAs are diverse when it comes to the contribution they make to team dynamics, despite gaining the same business qualification.

In terms of self-identification:

  • 27% of MBAs believe themselves to be ‘implementers’ (moving into action to get things done)
  • 22% of MBAs perceive themselves to be ‘game changers’ (bringing original ideas to people)
  • 21% of MBAs say they are ‘strategists’ (setting a direction for others to follow)
  • 18% of MBAs identify as ‘polishers’ (improving other people’s ideas and raising quality standards)
  • 12% of MBAs say they are ‘play makers’ (getting everyone to work together)

The GC Index® doesn’t measure personality type or leadership qualities, instead it focuses on an individual‘s preferred contribution style to a role or a company. The GC Index® has identified five roles that contribute to team success:

  • The implementers
  • The game changers
  • The strategists
  • The polishers
  • The play makers

Participants were asked to state how often they felt their teams had the right make-up for success. Three in 10 (29%) believe that their teams had the right make-up for success more than three-quarters of the time.

Furthermore, less than one percent of those that filled in the questionnaire are confident that the teams they’d worked in had the right combination of individuals and skills to meet objectives 100% of the time.

Almost half of the participants (48%) say their teams had the skills and individuals to succeed between 50% and 75% of the time. But more than one in five participants (22%) say that less than half of the teams in which they’d been a part of had the right personality and skills dynamics to succeed.

Will Dawes, Research and Insight Manager at AMBA, said: ‘This research shows that student and graduate MBAs see themselves as having different styles of leadership. This indicates that Business Schools enrol future leaders onto MBAs who may have varying approaches as leaders, or that MBA programmes influence students to think about themselves in different ways.’

‘The study also shines a light on key issues which are seen to affect team performance in the workplace, namely having a combination of skills and clarity around how these skills complement each other.’

More than eight in 10 participants (82%) feel that their role in a team has always or often been understood by others but just over one in five participants (22%) believe that less than half of the teams in which they’d been a member of had the right skills and personalities to succeed.

Only 20% of participants say it has ‘always’ been made clear to them how other team members’ contributions complemented their own.

The study looked at the ideas of influence within collaborative teams as well as leadership, conflict and defining the individual strengths that lead to shared success. 

‘Poor leadership’ and ‘communication issues between team members’ were seen as the most damaging issues to the success of a team. Just over two-thirds of participants (68%) say that poor leadership had been a factor of breakdown in collaboration. And, of these, 26% believe this manifested itself in the form of micromanagement; 25% said the leader was disengaged; 14% believed the leader was actively obstructive; and 10% said that the leader had prevented autonomy.

Dr John Mervyn-Smith, Chief Psychologist at The GC Index®, added: ‘The data suggests that, in terms of The GC Index® proclivities, that the MBA population, both students and graduates, are a diverse group.’

‘The key to achieving long-term success is to transform individual action into collective power. In order to do this effectively, you need to not only understand how you can best contribute and make an impact but also how other team members make their impact – only then will you be able to place them in the right roles and right environments.’

‘The teams and organisations that get this right and communicate openly about how everyone in the team makes an impact are the ones that are winning when it comes to transformation.’

‘We can learn from the world of sport when it comes to putting together effective leadership teams. Like a rugby team working together to set up the perfect position for a try, every team member has an important role to play and contribution to make in order to achieve the objective. A player scoring is made possible other player’s planning, agility, coordination and cooperation to navigate defence and get the ball lined up for a try.

‘The GC Index® shows we all have a role to play at some point in successful teams, whether we are an Implementer, Strategist, Play Maker, Game Changer or Polisher. We just need to know when and how to make a contribution.’


For more information, full report, infographics, imagery or interview opportunities, please contact:

David Woods-Hale, Head of Communications, AMBA - d.woods@mbaworld.com



The GC Index® methodology

The GC Index® is a scientific framework which enables individuals, teams and organisations to identify how they make their impact and how they can change the game. It doesn’t measure personality type, skills or leadership qualities, instead focusing on the preferred inclination of how individuals contribute to a project, role or organisation. It is revolutionising the way that individuals, teams and organisations operate, shifting mind sets to focus on impact. 

Based on detailed analyses of businesses and their leaders, the GC Index® has ascertained five clearly identifiable roles that are needed for a team that delivers:

  • The Game Changer – transforms the future by bringing original ideas
  • The Strategist – maps the future by making sense of great ideas and setting a direction for others to follow
  • The Implementer – Builds the future by making great ideas happen, moving into action and getting things done
  • The Polisher – creates a future to be proud of by making great ideas brilliant, improving other people’s ideas and raising quality standards
  • The Play Maker – orchestrates the future by bringing great ideas together and getting everyone to work better

From this fresh thinking and practice, emerges a new framework for leadership and team building. This framework is multidimensional, strengths-based, and it works with an individual’s preferred contribution in a role, or proclivity*.

The GC Index® developed its methodology through an initial survey of 157 observations/ratings of managers and executives in 20 different UK organisations.

*Data from this study was subsequently analysed in order to develop statistical segments and associated factor analysis developed the profile typologies. Further academic input from psychologist Professor Furnham helped develop an approach which would yield the key segment groups. This analysis was cognitively tested to ensure reliability of the GC Index® profiling tool.  


Survey methodology

AMBA and The GC Index® used an online questionnaire to survey 865 AMBA-accredited MBAs between September 2017 and January 2018. Just under one-third of these (31%) were MBA students at AMBA-accredited Business Schools at the time of filling in the survey, while the remaining 69% had graduated from AMBA-accredited programmes.

Of the participants 44% were CEOs, Managing Directors, Board Members or Senior Managers; 64% had budgetary responsibility within their organisation; 50% of participants worked in organisations with an annual turnover in excess of £10m; 6% were self-employed; and participants represented all industries. In terms of company size, 5% were sole traders; 54% worked in organisations with less than 1,000 members of staff; and 41% worked in organisations with more than 1,000 people. Just over two-thirds of participants were male (68%), 31% were female and 1% preferred not to say.

About the GC Index®

The GC Index® works with individuals and organisations, around the globe, to deliver impact and game-changing transformation.

The GC Index® is an organometric. It is underpinned by a scientific framework and used to understand the potential impact of individuals and create team formations that really change the game and deliver growth.

The GC Index® framework helps organisations:

  • Identify the genuine and potential impact individuals will impact
  • Recruit, develop and manage game-changing talent.
  • Accelerate and drive change.
  • Boost individual and team performance.
  • The GC Index® was created by Nathan Ott, Chief Polisher, and Dr John Mervyn-Smith, Chief Psychologist, in collaboration with Management Expert, Professor Adrian Furnham, following The DNA of a Game Changer Study.
  • There are a large variety of workforce and psychological assessment tools in the market but this is the only tool to measure proclivity – how individuals make their best impact, individually and collectively.
  • The team carried out thorough research to assess the validity and reliability before launching The GC Index®. It is compliant with the British Psychological Society and is uniquely designed around the fact everyone has the potential to make a game-changing contribution.
  • Over the past two years, we have grown a network of hundreds of GCologists, across the world, who use The GC Index® and thousands of individuals have been assessed using The GC Index®.

The validity of the questions is tested on an ongoing basis in connection with our work with Professor Adrian Furnham.