Ann Edwards, practice manager at Executive Training SHL, looks for mentoring and coaching schemes suitable for high performers in today's international marketplace
The recent CEML report (July, Training Magazine) should act as a sobering wake-up call for UK organisations. Already struggling in the aftermath of recent economic and terrorist events, the report warns organisations' troubles are far from over if they fail to address the soft skills deficit at senior management level currently damaging UK companies.
Organisations now have to re-evaluate the importance placed on effective leadership and management in good times and in bad. Slowly, a shift is taking place. As a result, the much admired pioneers and hard-nosed tycoons of the 90s are stepping aside for a new breed of leaders - charismatic visionaries at the helm of organisations, concentrating on values, ethics and communication.
In response, forward-thinking companies are refocusing their executive education strategies and increasing their development budgets to include coaching and mentoring. These are aimed at developing 'home-grown' talent and retaining potential leaders in a time when CEOs are in post for an average of just 18 months.
As the baby boomers reach retirement age, the challenge facing organisations today is identifying potential leaders from a decreasing talent pool. They must then foster them in keeping with future corporate goals and culture while nurturing and developing the new balance of soft and hard skills needed, including the way leaders relate to people, enthusiasm, thinking style and motivation.
Traditionally, organisations have adopted a short-term, 'agenda-setting' approach to the recruitment of leaders. This is epitomised by the tendency to parachute in a replacement from outside an organisation when recruiting senior people. However, the replacement is typically just that - someone with identical values and leadership techniques, rather than a successor best suited to the future goals and values of the organisation. This is the quick fix, the expensive option. Why? Because the person best suited to the job is often already there. You just haven't identified them yet.
Developing the new generation of leaders begins very simply. You must understand what your organisation needs, define what leadership means there and