Leadership Development Trending

With leadership development a top talent management priority this year, recent studies are finding that many employers plan to increase their investment in this area and focus on key core competencies.

In fact, 54% of employers surveyed by Lee Hecht Harrison expect to increase spending on leadership development in 2015, followed by 41% maintaining the same level of spending, and 5% spending less.

“Having a strong pipeline of ‘ready now’ leaders is at the heart of a high-performing talent management strategy. And it requires an investment and commitment to bring that to fruition,” said Kristen Leverone, senior vice president for Lee Hecht Harrison’s Global Talent Development Practice. “To ensure investments are made strategically, it helps to prioritize the competencies needed for success, both today and in the future.”

The top 10 in-demand leadership competencies identified in the survey are:

  1. Results management
  2. Strategic thinking
  3. Team leadership
  4. Collaboration
  5. Communication
  6. Decision-making
  7. Coaching/mentoring
  8. Ethical behavior
  9. Interpersonal skills
  10. Impact and influence

“In our experience, companies rely most heavily on formalized development programs and cross-training opportunities to develop leaders,” said Leverone. “Coaching and mentoring are also frequently used to provide more individualized development and feedback.”

Another recent study, conducted by the American Management Association (AMA) and the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) in conjunction with Training magazine, offers best practices for developing leaders with global skills and competencies.

The 6th annual global leadership study, “Developing Global-Minded Leaders to Drive High-Performance,” found that when it comes to developing global leaders, it is more effective to develop first-level leaders or individual contributors than it is to delay development efforts until they are promoted. Other findings include:

  • Active, experiential learning is preferred over on-the-job training;
  • A global mindset (e.g., embracing cross-cultural diversity and fostering collaborative relationships internally and externally) is important; and
  • Core social skills should be fostered.

“To have sophisticated executives prepared to take key positions at the head of a global organization means having to start early, and integrating global skills into training for first-level leaders. Organizations that haven’t take steps to do so will pay a price later on,” said Sam Davis, AMA’s vice president for customized consulting solutions.

“We’re seeing a trend emerge from our research that indicates that organizations must look at leaders through a different lens,” said i4cp’s Chief Research Officer Kevin Martin. “Business skills and acumen remain critical, but are now table stakes. It’s the ability to influence and drive collaboration across cultures, boundaries, and borders that has the greater variability on global leadership effectiveness and can make the biggest difference.”