Closing the Leadership Gap — Two Steps to Reverse the Alarming Trend

ClosingLeadershipGap2Steps-Reverse-Alarming-Trend31120BlogNever before have organizations faced such complexity. Globalization, changing demographics and rapid advancements in technology have created disruption in every vertical and geographic region. All of these factors have resulted in unprecedented business conditions, and unprecedented challenges for HR. In order to ensure their organizations succeed, HR professionals need to close a number of gaps which are identified in the Deliotte 2015 Global Capital Trends report.

One gap highlighted in the report is the ability to find and develop the right leaders. Leadership has been a top priority for a number of years, but this year the findings from the study are especially shocking. First, only 6 percent of organizations surveyed feel that their organization’s leadership pipeline is “very ready” to support their future leadership needs. Second, despite the fact that leadership spending has increased year over year — respondents actually feel less confident in their capability to successfully develop leaders.

To change this alarming trend HR professionals must first fill their leadership pipelines by establishing a formal process for finding the people who have the right skills and competencies to lead others. Strong performance in a current role is not enough to identify future leaders. People with true leadership potential are those who demonstrate:

  • The ability to cope with complexity, handle ambiguity and quickly integrate large amounts of data to make good business decisions;
  • Continual drive and ambition;
  • Learning orientation for themselves and for others;
  • A desire to lead others;
  • Strong personal and business ethics; and
  • The ability to monitor and manage their own emotions and the emotions of others.

Finding the right leaders is a good first step, but HR must then develop leadership programs to meet their organization’s present and future business needs, and the personal needs of the learners. That means developing programs that build the right skills and competencies across all levels of leaders, including the emerging millennial cohort, and delivering the programs in the right way to maximize learning and the return on the investment.

Historically leadership development has taken a very classical approach and relied heavily on classroom training. While instructor-led formal learning events still play a critical role in developing leaders, more and more organizations are starting to adopt a blended approach, and are adding informal learning activities to leadership development programs so people can (a) learn from others, and (b) learn on the job. Capitalizing on these informal learning opportunities requires rigor and structure to ensure that learning is properly extracted, captured and shared.

HR also needs to take notice of how today’s learners want to learn, and must start to shift to delivering formal learning in bite-sized chunks so it can be consumed on demand. This requires different capabilities in e-learning and mobile learning, and HR must either start building this skillset now, or develop relationships with learning partners who have the expertise.

The leadership challenge is not going away and HR professionals need to take immediate action to rebuild confidence in the HR function. According to the study only 22 percent of business leaders believe that HR is adapting to the changing demands of the business environment; and only 20 percent feel that HR can adequately plan for the company’s future talent needs. By taking the steps required to find the right future leaders and develop them in the right way, HR professionals can ensure that their organizations are prepared for tomorrow, and gain back the important credibility that they deserve.

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