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How Some Firms Are Grappling With the Leadership Gap

Companies that want to succeed in an increasingly competitive corporate climate must attract the best and brightest candidates, but simply getting them on board isn’t enough. Putting in place a plan that improves those in leadership roles, and gives all employees a chance to succeed when called upon to take the reins is a necessary reality that, according to some reports, is being ignored.

Survey data shows that executives and business leaders admit there is a gap between the leadership needs of their companies and actual practices designed to address those needs. An appropriate balance of training and education could help combat the plague of weak corporate leadership, though.

Deloitte Survey Highlights Leadership Concerns

Yet again, a lack of competent leadership has become a growing concern for many companies. According to Deloitte’s recent 2015 Global Human Capital Trends survey report, 86% of HR and business leaders cited leadership at a pressing issue. This is the third straight year Deliotte reported results along these lines.

The report, featured in a recent article from The Wall Street Journal, shows that half of respondents say their leadership shortcomings are "very important." In contrast, only 6% of organizations’ representatives reported they believe their leadership pipeline is “very ready" for the future. And, the efforts to remedy this gap seem to be absent.

Less than half of the executives surveyed report they received "any development at all," according to the article. Research indicates only a third of companies have a steady supply of leaders ready to take over top positions. "Only 10% of respondents to this year’s survey believe they have an 'excellent' succession program and 51% state that their programs are weak or have none at all," the article states.  

The Potency of Mixing Teaching and Training

The distinction between training and education is an important one, especially when it comes to staying ahead of the HR talent curve, according to information from Business2Community.

It's not enough to simply show employees how to complete needed tasks, although that is obviously required, but it is equally important to helping employees problem-solve by understanding the big picture of how programs, processes and policies work. "You train people for performance. You educate people for understanding," the story states.

For its part, training tools have evolved and there are new ways to efficiently deliver the task-based information needed by employees. But, it must be paired with a "holistic" education plan. By giving all employees a chance to benefit from both task-oriented training and broad, over-arching education, innovation will naturally follow.

“[Everyday innovation] empowers your entire staff to solve problems before or shortly after they happen, discover new efficient methods to streamline your operation, and propose solutions that will make seemingly intractable obstacles disappear,” the article states.

Invest in Leadership Training

An article in Credit Union Times cited yet another troubling leadership gap; CEO’s want to increase leadership development, but are unsure the training will be effective.

A McKinsey Quarterly survey of 81 companies found that 90% of CEO’s want to increase leadership development investment because it is the “single most important human-capital issue,” but 57% of CEO’s lack confidence the investments will be effective.

Some question the usefulness of investing in human capital, as employees come and go so fluidly, but the article contends that providing effective training will improve loyalty and engagement among other benefits. Effective leadership training has a multitude of benefits, and is a worthwhile use of time and resources, when implemented properly.

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