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Study reveals looming leadership crisis

•    Nearly two-thirds (62%) of leaders are unhappy in their current roles
•    43% are actively seeking new employment
•    Bosses expect to lose almost a third (29%) of leaders next year
•    71% of leaders would consider a move abroad

Research released today by independent management consultants, Berkshire Consultancy Limited, reveals that Britain’s largest companies risk a leadership ‘merry-go-round’ as economic stability returns.

The Agile Leader report, examining the views of senior executives at top-500 UK companies, uncovers a worrying level of career dissatisfaction and a growing appetite for new employment.
Dissatisfaction pandemic
Berkshire Consultancy’s research found that almost two thirds (62%) of UK business leaders are dissatisfied with their current roles and more than half (57%) are unhappy with their employers.

As a result nearly half (43%) are actively looking for a new role outside their current organisations. Almost a third (29%) plan to leave their jobs within the next year, rising to 54% within two years.

Sarah Hunter, Account Director, Berkshire Consultancy, comments: “Leadership succession planning and development took a back seat during the recession, leaving many senior executives feeling unsupported and unsatisfied. Those companies that are already struggling, risk losing critical talent just when they need it the most.”

A waiting game

The research indicates that, despite high levels of dissatisfaction, many leaders are biding their time and awaiting clearer signs of economic recovery before moving on. Almost half (43%) of senior executives cite economic uncertainty as their primary reason for staying put.   

But executives are poised to move on with 56% saying they would have left in the last year had an appropriate opportunity arisen. One in ten (12%) leaders have already accepted another job.

Joanna Knight, Director, Berkshire Consultancy, says: “Companies have performed well through the recession are well placed to gain further competitive advantage by tapping the increasingly fluid management talent pool. Those businesses guilty of neglecting top talent need to act fast to avoid a serious brain-drain.”

Sarah Hunter, Account Director, Berkshire Consultancy, comments: “While many executives are already set to jump ship, changes can be made to re-engage leaders and reduce the severity of the approaching management merry-go-round. Those at the top need to be honest and visible and involve leaders fully in taking the company forwards.

“Companies should also think creatively about the way senior managers are catered for and positioned in the business – lateral moves and new responsibilities are great places to start,” she adds.

Talent retention challenge
Increasingly ‘itchy feet’ amongst senior executives has left bosses downbeat about retaining their best leadership talent.

Half of bosses admit they lack confidence in their organisation’s ability to hold on to the best leaders as the economic outlook improves. On average, they expect to lose nearly a third (29%) of leaders over the next year, and close to two fifths (38%) over the next two years.

On a broader economic level, the UK economy could also face a worrying drain on leadership talent. Nearly three quarters (71%) of senior managers say they would consider a move overseas.

Joanna Knight says: “Remedial action is vital if UK businesses, and UK PLC as a whole, is to hold onto its top talent. It is time for firms to provide their management teams with the skills and challenges needed to secure their buy-in and enthusiasm for the future of their company.”

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