The world we live in today is very different to the world we inhabited just a few decades ago. A rapidly changing workforce, globalisation, the rise of the knowledge economy and technological advances, together with the global economic downturn, pose a whole new set of challenges for 21st century leaders and managers.
To compete successfully on the global stage, UK plc needs a steady stream of management talent capable of delivering strong economic growth. Creating these leaders and managers should be the top priority for UK business and requires a fully functioning management talent pipeline.
The topic of quality leadership with organisations, and the apparent lack of investment in leadership development it is no surprise that this issue is consistently referred to by both government and academic studies as an area that needs urgent focus.
Recent research by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) shows there is real cause for concern at the current state of the UK’s leadership talent pool and management development pipeline.
Stagnating pools and leaky pipelines
We found that most organisations lack a functional talent pipeline, with many having no talent plan at all, and that management capability and succession planning are a major worry for UK employers.
An overwhelming 93% of respondents expressed concern that low levels of management skills are having a direct impact on their business achieving its goals.
When we dig deeper, we see this deficit is the result of a lack of talent strategy and badly constructed and maintained talent pipelines, (i.e. training programmes and key leadership development events) which are currently failing to enable the development and flow of management and leadership skills throughout an organisation.
Without training, the onus falls on new managers to promptly develop the required leadership and management skills and knowledge they need to be effective. In many cases this will be through trial and error, which can impede team performance and a manager’s own longer-term career prospects.
First line managers perform particularly well on technical/functional skills, which the survey identifies as the main factor determining their appointment.
From an employer’s perspective, there is a high level of correlation between the importance of technical/ functional skills and the capability of applicants.
However, these technical skills become less and less important the further up the organisation an employee progresses, while the skills they are least likely to possess, such as strategic and financial skills, become more and more important.
The worry here is that technical capability alone is not a good indicator of management capability or leadership potential, and first line managers recruited primarily for technical skills can often prove to be ill-prepared for the demands of more senior managerial roles, lots of work to be done here then.
The soft skills gap
The research identified a shortage of ‘softer’ leadership and management skills as a particular challenge facing UK employers, particularly within middle and senior leadership roles. We asked employers to rank the personal qualities that people bring to their leadership and management role by importance and availability at different management levels. The results show that organisations consistently struggle to find managers at every level who are emotionally intelligent, inspirational and creative.
The shortfall in these areas is particularly pronounced at first line management level: 49% of respondents said it was hard to find first line managers who were entrepreneurial, and 39% said it was hard to find ‘emotionally intelligent’ managers at this same level.
On June 22nd & 23rd 2013 the UK College of Personal Development are hosting a key Leadership Development event
Leadership – Developing World Class Visionary Leaders
A unique and powerful two day seminar with one of the world’s leading authorities on leadership and Europe’s leading light in Transformative Leadership Coaching, Robert Dilts & Pilar Godino.
Full details can be found via: www.ukcpd.net/leadership
(Report info taken in part form ILM research papers.)