Are We Doing Enough To Develop Future Leaders?

We’re not, according to Deloitte’s BusinessConfidence Report 2014, which summarizes findings from a survey of 600 U.S. executives—300 c-suite executives and 300 c-suite executives in waiting (i.e., those at the SVP, executive VP or an equivalent level)—about their confidence in various aspects of their businesses.

While the majority of these executives are “very confident” that their organizations will outperform their competitors over the next year, many also believe their organizations “are not adequately investing in the development of leaders,” the report states.
Here’s a sampling of the worrisome leadership-related statistics the report offers:
  • Only 48% of these executives believe their direct reports have the skills to become part of the c-suite in their organization.
  • 50% of the surveyed c-suite executives in waiting have little or no access to leadership training to help them grow into more senior positions.
  • Only 49% of the c-suite executives in waiting agreed that their organizations create opportunities for them to succeed.
  • And just 49% of c-suite executives say they’re committed to developing leadership skills at all levels of their organization.
In an October 31 blogpost, Josh Bersin writes that after studying the leadership development practices of companies for nearly 10 years, his research reveals that “only 26% of companies even have successors identified for their top positions—so the problem is not only one of development, but more significantly one of ‘selecting the right candidates.’”
As Bersin notes, the development and selection of leaders is difficult. It requires an investment of resources, time and money. It also requires guidance, support and mentoring of current leaders, who are often overwhelmed with their day-to-day responsibilities. Focusing on the development of future leaders only stretches them further. Yet it’s imperative that they find the time because we need to develop future leaders. The future of our organizations depends upon it.
Clearly, this isn’t an issue we can fix overnight. “Executives have to realize that it often takes years for new leaders to become seasoned, high performing executives,” says Bersin.
So what can we do in the meantime? We can make progress by doing a better job of identifying our best leadership candidates, giving them the attention and development they need to fulfill their destinies, and putting greater effort into our succession planning strategies.
If we can actually accomplish these goals, our business leaders’ confidence about the future will be justified.
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