What's Behind the Leadership Shortage?
If you’re like me and follow HR-related press and HR blogs, you regularly read about a shortage of leaders. Executives all the way up to the CEO are expressing concern that a shortage of leaders will hinder business growth. But what is provoking these sentiments? APQC is currently exploring this question, and one of the early hypotheses has to do with management development programs—their attendance as well as their content.
Management Development Programs Are Not Well Attended
In analyzing APQC’s Open Standards Benchmarking data, we found surprisingly low levels of participation in management development programs. At the median, less than a quarter of senior and middle managers have participated in a management development program. Among organizations in the top performer quartile, nearly two-thirds of middle managers/specialists attended a management development program, a much higher but curiously low upper limit.
Management Development Programs Are Not Meeting Management Needs
Upon further analysis, a potential explanation for these low participation rates emerged: managers and leaders may be choosing not to participate in management development because the programs are falling short of meeting their needs. Our benchmarking data reveal that less than one-third of organizations believe their management development program addresses all key management development needs.
Best Practices for Developing Managers and Leaders
Does your organization fit these norms? APQC’s qualitative benchmarking studies have uncovered best practices that you can use to improve the quality of management development at your organization.
- Establish a formal program to ensure a consistent and proactive approach to management development.
- Use common tools, processes, and systems to identify, develop, and place managers.
- Develop a management-specific competency model.
- Design a management career path with stages linked to specific competency requirements and suggested development opportunities.
- Create an online career portal that employees and managers use to assess potential, identify competency gaps, learn about development opportunities, and track performance.
- Include assessment of management potential in employee performance evaluations.
- Offer a range of management development opportunities including classroom and online courses, on-the-job experiences, rotational assignments, and mentoring and coaching.
- Involve senior managers in developing future managers, participating as mentors for example.
What do you think is causing business leader concern about a leadership skills shortage? Share a comment. Respond to our leadership poll question. Sign up to follow our leadership skills research.
Elissa Tucker is a research program manager with APQC, a Houston-based nonprofit that focuses on benchmarking and best practices. Prior to joining APQC, Elissa worked as a research consultant at HR consultancy Hewitt Associates (now Aon Hewitt). She led large-scale quantitative and qualitative research studies and authored research reports, white papers, and presentations. Elissa co-edited and contributed to the book: Workforce Wake-Up Call: Your Workforce Is Changing, Are You?