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Leading in ‘The Human Age’

In a recent study, titled Why Global Leaders Succeed and Fail, Right Management (a part of the Manpower Group) worked with Chally Group to survey over 1400 CEOs and HR professionals across the globe on their leadership development practices. The Academy for Chief Executives has worked with Right Management to bring you this newsletter which focuses on the challenges and possibilities of leading in what Owen J Sullivan, CEO of Right Management calls ‘The Human Age’.

In his introduction to the report, he notes, “Business results depend on bringing leaders of all levels to the peak of their potential in accelerated time frames and with maximum efficiency. New challenges are confronting leaders at a quickening pace. No organization can afford to overlook leader development.”

He makes the case that, to ensure growth and competitiveness, companies need to invest in leadership talent because having the right talent in place will determine the success of businesses as the economy turns back towards growth. And growth is where he sees the market heading, albeit slowly at first.

“The talent organisations employ has emerged as the single most important element of sustainable differentiation. A new era is upon us–the Human Age. It will be human potential that will be the catalyst for change and the global driving force behind economic, political and social developments.”

The survey itself throws up three paradoxes in the view of the authors.

  • The first paradox is that companies need leaders who have “a demonstrated track record of Creating a Sound Strategic Vision and Inspiring Others and Maintaining Leadership Responsibility” whilst the survey shows that these roles are more likely to be a fairly exclusive domain of the CEO. How can they learn what they never get the opportunity to do?
  • Paradox 2 is that “the results also suggest that many organizations may suffer from a critical but hidden weakness in terms of leadership bench strength. Bench strength is the depth and quality of emerging or next-generation leaders that the firm has available in the talent pool. Considering that essentially all execution will demand accomplishing the corporate goals through others, it may be telling that less than half of all respondents cited Selecting and Developing Successors and Key Reports as a critical strength for any role.”
  • The third paradox is that so little support seems to be given to bringing the leader on-board and early in their development. The authors refer to it as a ‘sink or swim approach. “Do leaders need a deliberate and effective on-boarding process to integrate them into a new level of responsibility even if they are internally promoted…much as new employees often benefit from well-conceived integration into a new company and position?”

In the next two articles in this newsletter we will take two of the themes of the report – Creating the conditions for Leaders to succeed and Succession Planning for Bench Strength – and, using examples from the survey results and from The Academy process, develop them for business leaders looking for ways to grow and develop their businesses.

Running a growing business is a team effort and we know, because you tell us, that the learning that comes from the speakers and the peer sessions within the Academy is much more effective when it is shared with the leadership team and more generally within the business. The Right Management report refers to action learning and it seems that this is roughly analogous to the experiential learning approach that the Academy has developed.

For these reasons, we are happy to be working with Right Management’s UK Practice. We are, it seems, talking the same language – a language that can translate into successful business growth.

The Leadership Insights report Why Global Leaders Succeed and Fail from Right Management can be downloaded from . (registration required). Printed copies will be distributed at the Academy’s members only ‘Leading Growth’ event in May presented in association with RBS. Speakers there will include Lloyd Dorfman CBE Chairman, Travelex, Lara Morgan, founder Pacific Direct Group Ltd and Darren Shirlaw, founder of Shirlaws Global.

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One Comment

  1. elisewrence says:

    “Running a growing business is a team effort” I really agree with this. You can’t do it alone just by your own you need a team.

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