To examine the challenges of leadership and potential impact on individuals throughout different business sectors, Gallagher surveyed over 1000 UK business leaders across multiple industries.
Gallagher survey reveals how a lack of peer-level support is preventing UK business leaders from performing at the top of their game

A UK-wide survey by Gallagher and YouGov has underlined the importance of having a strong network of trusted advisers to prevent performance being impacted by the isolating realities of reaching the top of your game, with nearly a fifth (19%) of surveyed business leaders seeking advice from external experts feeling more supported than those seeking advice elsewhere.

To examine the challenges of leadership and potential impact on individuals throughout rugby and wider business sectors, Gallagher surveyed over 1000 UK business leaders across multiple industries. It found that:

  • 82% of UK business leaders surveyed, across organisations of all sizes, agree that the success of their business is largely dependent on decisions they personally make;
  • Yet, at least one third agree the number of business confidantes they can seek counsel from has decreased the more senior and successful they have become;
  • 38% of UK business leaders spend at least 80% of their time working alone;
  • More than one in four (28%) admit to having felt isolated when making critical business decisions in the last 12 months

The survey found that rising to the top of their business also impacted the number of business confidantes UK leaders could seek counsel from. On average, one third (32%) of those surveyed – rising to 43% for medium-sized companies and 39% for large organisations with 250+ employees – indicated that this number of business confidantes had decreased as they grew more senior in rank.

Combined, these realities of leadership can lead to a sense of dislocation. To illustrate this, of the more than one in four (28%) UK business leaders surveyed admitting to feeling more isolated in the last 12 months, more than two thirds (67%) attributed that directly to the pressure of their role responsibilities, such as making critical business decisions alone – and results from the survey reveal the potential impact on leadership performance.

For example, one in five agreed that they felt less productive in undertaking the responsibility of their role given the degree of decisions they must make alone, with the same number (18%) admitting they felt less confident as a result.

To help address issues identified in the survey, Gallagher has launched a campaign of activity following the recent renewal of its title partnership with Premiership Rugby.

The campaign will highlight the challenges that leaders face when peer-level support naturally reduces as individuals rise to the top of their industry, while also looking to provide access to external, independent advisers that specialise in leadership performance – for both the elite rugby and wider business community.

As part of the campaign, Gallagher is launching the Gallagher Leaders Trust in partnership with Premiership Rugby. This initiative is designed to help create an effective and ongoing mentoring network for those tasked with delivering exceptional performance leadership across the league’s 13 clubs. Aimed specifically at Directors of Rugby (DORs) and head coaches, the Gallagher Leaders Trust will comprise a panel of leading sports and business coaches, such as Professor Damian Hughes, to help them tackle the challenge of leadership. The initiative will assist in setting standards of leadership excellence in rugby, provide bespoke mentoring and tailored events, and create a network of expertise and guidance.

Away from the rugby pitch, the wider campaign will include elements specific to broader business leaders including a series of intimate breakfast events hosted by Professor Damian Hughes. Taking place at various locations across the UK, each event will bring together senior business leaders from different industries to discuss leadership themes and explore networking opportunities. Latterly, Gallagher will be producing a three-part content series examining the importance of shared leadership and collaborating with the High Performance podcast to discuss the synergies between leadership in rugby and business.

Commenting on the findings of the UK business leaders survey Michael Rea, CEO of Gallagher’s UK Retail business, said: “The survey demonstrates the increasing value of a network of trusted external advisers for leaders as they develop through organisations – whether that’s as CEO of a medium sized business or as a Director of Rugby. Left unchecked, this could have a negative impact on decision making and business performance. However, this risk can also be mitigated, as our research shows the benefit to be gained by senior decision makers who seek out external advice from specialists who understand the challenges of their business, sector or leadership more broadly.

“That’s why we are delighted to be launching the Gallagher Leaders Trust to help build a mentoring network for those charged with leadership and performance excellence at the very highest level of elite rugby, while taking these learnings to a wider audience of our UK business leaders. Whether it’s in a boardroom or on a rugby pitch, surrounding yourself with a team of trusted advisers and coaches is critical for success.”

Professor Damian Hughes, co-host of the High Performance Podcast and best-selling author, said: “The success of a business or a rugby team is highly dependent on effective teamwork, which in some instances means bringing external experts onto the team. For teams to thrive you cannot allow those tasked with making key decisions at the top to become isolated or feel cut off by the pressure of their responsibilities. So, I’m excited to be part of an initiative that will endeavour to tackle this issue in the world of rugby leadership, and look forward to working closely with Gallagher and the Directors of Rugby to establish strong support networks throughout the Gallagher Premiership.”

Simon Massie-Taylor, CEO of Premiership Rugby, stated: “Premiership Rugby acknowledges the pressure and stress that comes with running an elite rugby team and the results of Gallagher’s survey reinforce the importance of any business leader being able to tap into trusted networks of support. I strongly endorse the value of having trusted advisers and mentors to help provide expert advice and support to leaders, especially in this uncertain and complex world we live in. Therefore, I am very keen to encourage that culture of connection across the Premiership. Gallagher is a trusted partner, and we look forward to working closely with them to ensure the Leaders Trust is a valuable tool for DORs in our league.”