Up and Coming Leaders Lack the Skills to Lead


Leadership skills chart

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A glaring gap exists between the leadership skills organizations have now and the ones they will need in five years, according to new research from the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL).

Executives in the U.S., India and Singapore surveyed by CCL, a provider of executive education, identified the four most important leadership skills for the future as: 1) leading people; 2) strategic planning; 3) inspiring commitment; and 4) managing change. However, the survey showed that all four areas are weak points among today’s leaders.

“When it comes to leadership talent, organizations do not have what they need to handle their biggest challenges in the very near future. At CCL, we call this the ‘leadership gap,’” said Sylvester Taylor, a CCL director who helped devise the study. “The good news is companies still can develop these skills in their people, but they don’t have any time to waste.”

CCL surveyed 2,200 leaders from 15 companies for its “Understanding the Leadership Gap” study. Researchers asked executives and managers from an array of corporations and government agencies to consider a set of 20 leadership skills. Respondents then ranked those skills in terms of how important they will be for success five years from now and how accomplished their colleagues are at them today.

The study found that organizations in the U.S., India and Singapore share many of the same gaps. Globally, executives and managers rated “leading people,” or knowing how to hire, direct and motivate talented staff, as the most important leadership skill for the future. “Strategic planning,” which involves translating vision into realistic business strategies, ranked second in importance. It was followed by “inspiring commitment,” which calls for recognizing and rewarding employee accomplishments, and then “managing change,” which includes dealing with resistance to change and involving colleagues in the design and implementation of change.

Based on these research findings, CCL created the Leadership Gap Indicator, an assessment tool that helps organizations define and measure the leadership characteristics most important for their success.

“Identifying gaps in leadership capacity brings a focus to hiring and development decisions and can improve return on talent investment,” Taylor said. “Without hard evidence to rely on, there is a risk that the skills gap will simply widen and that your organization will not have the leadership resources needed to survive and thrive.”
For more info: http://www.ccl.org/leadership/pdf/research/leadershipGap.pdf

2 responses to “Up and Coming Leaders Lack the Skills to Lead

  1. Hey Nick – I’ve been involved in the corporate training industry since the late 70’s and at the helm of the Leadership Institute since 1990 – and I’ve watched ‘leadership’ evolve over the years in the business community and have paid close attention to the emerging trends – and I would tend to agree with the CCL findings. While Jason (above) has the right idea, as we move into this time where companies are needing to accomplish a whole lot more with much less, it’s becoming even more important that leaders be able to help their organizations achieve much greater returns on what they are investing in their people while providing them with long-term opportunities in the process – which is one of the main perspectives we reinforce in our monthly leadership sessions around the country. Thanks Nick for calling attention to this very important topic. Continued Success! JA

  2. I’m wondering why the particular skills outlined are going to increase in importance five years from now when they’re already so darn critical!

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