No more lip service from senior leaders

The CIPD survey on the shortage of leaders ( is the most recent example of lip service being paid to HR by senior management.

Our advice: if you want to get buy-in from senior managers, just ask them if they know where the next generation of leadership is coming from. Then will be the time to use a carrot and stick approach.

First, the stick: without a culture of development, your best people will leave and join your competitors; there will be no-one to make your business plans a reality.

Research confirms that employees are looking for more than just salary, so give them a proper development path that sees them growing and remaining within the organisation.

And the carrot: proper development not only adds value to the business but will save you money.

In a tightening labour market, not only will it be harder to find the right people to drive your business forward, but there will be greater competition for those people leading to wage inflation and higher costs.

The only way to avoid this cycle is to really understand and develop the potential you have internally – a truly cost-effective alternative to recruitment.

Identifying potential from existing internal talent is more than fast-tracking those that are performing well; it requires in-depth analysis of an individual’s abilities, personality and motivation to spot those that can step up and move the business forward when the current generation of leaders moves on.

The sooner senior managers see the rewards of development in hard business terms, the sooner they will lend their support.

Adrian Starkey, Psychologist and leadership expert, SHL Group

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