UK leaders best placed to weather economic downturn

Business leaders around the world are battling against the odds to do a great job, with poor preparation for the role the biggest barrier to success.

Those working in multinational organisations are the most ill-prepared to do their jobs, while UK leaders receive the best development – welcome news as we look to our business leaders to keep the economy afloat through the global downturn.

These are the main findings of the 5th Global Leadership Forecast 2008/2009 by business leadership consultancy DDI.

More than 13,700 leaders and HR professionals from 76 countries took part in the research, making it the most comprehensive study on leadership practices in the world.

The study finds that:

·  Just 41% of leaders globally are satisfied with leadership development, down 12% since the 2005/2006 Global Leadership Forecast – a clear message to the 75% of organisations that currently don’t measure the effectiveness of their leadership programmes

·  Leaders face special challenges as they get promoted, admitting that each ‘transition’ into a new role becomes more difficult. Despite this, nearly half of organisations (46%) provide no development for leaders moving into new roles, with 37% of succession candidates failing – an unnecessary risk and a huge cost to businesses

·  Global leaders in particular are not getting the development they need and are ill-prepared for the roles: just 29% of multinational organisations say they have processes to develop their multi-national leaders. But this has clear consequences, with multinational leaders in nearly every global region considered lower quality than country leaders

·  UK leaders are rated most highly, with 44% of respondents rating UK leaders very good or excellent compared to 37% globally. This translates to higher confidence in our leaders: 49% of the UK’s HR professionals have high confidence in their leaders versus 35% worldwide

·  The UK again fares well when it comes to high potential leaders: although 50% of organisations globally claim to have a process for spotting high potential leaders, this rises to 58% in the UK.

·  Worldwide however, just 39% of organisations then invest in programmes to accelerate the development of this business-critical group, rising to 47% in the UK

·  This approach is clearly working: in the UK 55% of those on high potential programmes are happy with their development compared to 37% globally. Furthermore, 66% of those on high potential leadership programmes in the UK are happy with their development compared to just 34% of those on the standard leadership programmes

·  UK organisations are considered to have the highest quality leadership development programmes. UK leaders put this down to good assessment of strengths and development needs, with 89% citing this reason compared to 68% globally

·  Globally, 81% of the most effective leadership programmes made a clear link between leadership skills and business priorities compared with just 36% of the least effective programmes.

“In a time of global economic uncertainty it’s encouraging to see that the UK’s business leaders are receiving better support in their roles than their global counterparts,” says Steve Newhall, Vice President Europe for DDI.

“When times get tough, leadership skills are really put to the test, and organisations with the right quality and quantity of leaders will weather the storm better than those less well prepared. In the face of pressure to reduce costs organisations must remain firm in their commitment to invest in leader assessment and development.”

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