Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Leadership Found Wanting Worldwide: Global Survey Results

Published:Sunday | December 20, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2015 provides a wake-up call for those tasked with Human Resources and Leadership responsibilities.

Here are some of the alarm bells:

• The gap is widening between what business leaders want and what HR is delivering.

• Engagement and culture skyrocketed to the no. 1 issue around the world, with 87 per cent of companies rating it important or very important vs 79 per cent last year.

• Half the respondents rated their leadership shortfalls as "very important," while only 31 per cent believed their leadership pipeline is "ready".

• Learning and development issues exploded, rising from the no. 8 to the no. 3 most important talent challenge in this year's study. Yet despite this demand, capabilities in learning dropped significantly.

• The capability gap for building great leaders has widened in every region of the world.

The report paints a picture of HR and Learning & Development (L & D) professionals scrambling under the goading of their CEOs and internal clients to find solutions to this widening leadership gap.

There is the stark image of underprepared leaders having to meet the challenges of low employee engagement and a workforce that is seemingly more willing to confront them.

Downsized and under-resourced HR and L&D departments are already taxed with transactional demands and are at their wits' end as to how to address this ever increasing challenge.

Are there feasible solutions that can be implemented under existing circumstances? Another question is whether the Report will prompt a rethinking about the role of HR in organisations.

Here is a step-by-step seven-point action plan that addresses the issue:

1. Avoid reinventing what is already in place. Instead of taking on the added burden of designing leadership programmes, seek out accredited courses that meet your needs.

2. Look for options that are scalable while not placing additional demands on your human resources.

3. Focus on solutions that can be rolled out to large numbers of team members without time and place impediments.

4. Avoid Band-Aid solutions that touch the surface and reach large numbers, but fail to incorporate the critical follow-up, hand holding and accountability elements that are essential to sustained success.

5. Time is of the essence. Opt for solutions that can be implemented quickly and easily. There is growing impatience with the situation and you need to demonstrate palpable results quickly.

6. Low employee engagement is taken into participation in learning and development initiatives. Selecting programmes that offer participants certification is proven to make a huge difference in levels of take-up and completion.

7. Avoid simply going along with traditional leadership programmes. They are clearly not meeting the emerging needs or that leadership gap would not be widening. Look for niche programmes that specifically address issues being encountered by your leadership cadre.

One example of an area of great concern that is not specifically addressed is the issue of leading difficult employees. There is little question that employees are somewhat more assertive and more willing to challenge their team leaders. "Difficult people challenges" is consistently among the top-three issues that team leaders raise as areas of personal struggle.

- Trevor E. S Smith is a behaviour modification coach with the Success with People Academy.