In a paper examining the findings, Adam Canwell, Vishalli Dongrie, Neil Neveras and Heather Stockton – who work for Deloitte in a range of locations – point out that leadership “remains the No. 1 talent issue facing organizations around the world,” with 86% of respondents to the survey rating it “urgent” or “important.” However, the fact that only 13% say they do an excellent job of developing leaders at all levels means that this area has the largest “readiness gap” in the survey.
Almost inevitably, the problem is felt to be especially acute today. This is a result of the strengthening of the global recovery, the desire on the part of the companies to expand in new markets and the growing numbers of older leaders choosing to retire.
A key part of the solution identified by the Deloitte team is for organizations to develop leadership pipelines at every level. At present, it says, companies are not only not developing enough leaders, they are also not equipping those they are creating with the critical capabilities and skills they need to succeed. “Today’s market environment places a premium on speed, flexibility and the ability to lead in uncertain situations. At the same time, the flattening of organizations has created an explosion in demand for leadership skills at every level.”
It appears that there is no avoiding spending money when it comes to dealing with this situation. The best performing companies already spend thousands of dollars each year developing each would-be leader on their staff, with the figure for senior leaders in the tens of thousands of dollars. Creating strong leadership programs for leaders at all levels – as advocated – requires sustained and substantial investment. At the early stages in the leadership pipeline, potential leaders need to acquire core skills in supervision and management, with frequent assignments to build on this base. Later on, they need to understand all the business functions before becoming executives, when business and product strategy will be central, along with experience of driving change within large teams. Companies need to understand that there are no shortcuts to building broad and deep leadership teams. New leaders typically need 18 months before feeling fully comfortable in a new role, while for those in the mid-level the period is more likely to be two to three years.
The paper also calls for companies to be more flexible in terms of leadership paths. Some leaders will move into senior roles relatively quickly because of a particular situation, while others will develop more slowly.
Above all, though, organizations need to realize that developing leaders amounts to more than having a selection of training programs. “Senior executives should create a culture that broadens the opportunity for leaders to develop in new ways,” writes the Deloitte team. “This means putting potential leaders in positions that stretch them beyond their current skill sets, and continuously coaching and supporting leaders so they can build their capabilities as rapidly as possible.” This is increasingly well recognised, say the authors, but it is “simply not widely adopted and practiced”.
Where should companies begin? A few starting points include:
- Engaging top executives to develop leadership strategy and actively govern leadership development.
- Aligning leadership strategies and development with evolving business goals
- Focusing on three aspects of developing leaders – developing leaders at all levels, developing global leaders locally and developing a succession mindset
- Implementing an effective – and unique – leadership program.
by Roger Trapp, Forbes
Leadership Defined (1)
Leadership Defined (2): Influence to Choice to Mission Accomplished
Leadership Defined (3): All Employee Engagement Is Discretionary
Top 10 Qualities That Make A Great Leader Series
Top 10 Qualities That Make A Great Leader (1): Honesty
10 Qualities That Make A Great Leader (2): Ability to Delegate
Top 10 Qualities That Make A Great Leader (3): Communication
Top 10 Qualities That Make A Great Leader (4): Sense of Humor
Top 10 Qualities That Make A Great Leader (5): Confidence
Top 10 Qualities That Make A Great Leader (6): Commitment
Top 10 Qualities That Make A Great Leader (7): Positive Attitude
Top 10 Qualities That make A Great Leader (8): Creativity
Top 10 Qualities That Make A Great Leader (9): Intuition
Top 10 Qualities That Make A Great Leader (10): Ability To Inspire