DDI's global study of more than 13,000 business leaders and 1,500 HR professionals revealed just one third of leaders feel 'very prepared' to deliver on their CEOs' top challenges of human capital, customer relations, innovation and operational excellence. Simon Mitchell discusses the implications.
Our Global Leadership Forecast (GLF) is a truly global study of more than 13,000 business leaders and 1,500 HR executives. The GLF report is a fascinating study of leadership today and focuses on the experiences of leaders all around the world, and the implications. It’s clear that, not only are leaders struggling with new skills such as using analytics, driving innovation, surviving in the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world and managing increasingly diverse teams, they are finding the fundamental requirements of leadership difficult.
Can leadership skills be acquired?
These include delivering on the specific strategy of their CEOs, leading rather than managing, and effectively interacting with teams. I think there is a belief that leaders have, or should have, the basic skills. But, as we know, they often don’t. Of course, leadership skills can be acquired like any others but this report looks at why learning isn’t always a success.
It seems that the 70:20:10 ratio may not be entirely effective. And manager involvement in participants’ development and high relevance to a leader’s job are very important in effective skills development.
Effectively communicating with others, building consensus, coaching, change management and developing networks are skills that are arguably more important in today’s world.
In terms of shifting focus towards these critical skills, HR’s role is evolving and there is a new type of HR person emerging.
More than a ‘business partner’, we’ve coined the phrase ‘anticipator’ to describe this group of executives whose value includes using data to predict talent gaps in advance and providing insight on how talent relates to strategy goals.
The most financially successful organisations have significantly more HR people playing the ‘anticipator’ role and the report goes into much more depth about what these people do.
Big data can provide big value to HR professionals but they have to become skilled in using the numbers.
Currently the focus seems to be on collecting data that has weaker impact, such as metrics related to leadership programmes and benchmarking within the organisation.
However, the prize is to become comfortable using analytics that have stronger impact, such as programme results metrics, predictive analytics and the impact of HR initiatives on business outcomes.
The data tells us that, on average, only a third of leaders feel ‘very prepared’ to deliver on their CEOs’ top challenges of human capital, customer relationships, innovation and operational excellence. This is unacceptable.
Developing leaders to a state of readiness so they can tackle these challenges effectively requires accelerated development, effective identification of leadership strengths, development areas (as well as potential) and an understanding of what the critical periods of leadership growth at different levels are.
General manager, DDI UK