InTouch : People the top priority

New Zealand businesses rate the need to improve or leverage their talent as one of their top priorities, according to research initiative the Leadership Forecast 2008.
The study, conducted by Development Dimensions International (DDI), is based on research of more than 12,000 leaders and 1500 human resource professionals worldwide, and included around 800 participants from New Zealand and Australia. The Australasian benchmark report was launched during New Zealand Leadership Week by Sheffield, the exclusive licensee for DDI in New Zealand.
Announcing the findings, Sheffield managing director Christien Winter said the issue of improving and leveraging talent had particular urgency in New Zealand and Australia. Low unemployment and higher numbers of leadership talent being lost to offshore opportunities were hurting the Australasian market. This explained why high proportion (85 percent) of Australasian executives rated the need to improve or leverage talent as urgent, compared with 75 percent in the overall global findings.
“This finding confirms the belief in Australasian business circles that competition will only exacerbate the challenges in securing talent,” Winter said.
Development of talent internally was no longer simply an option, it had become “modus operandi”, she said. But the rigour around how this was achieved was questionable, as the study highlighted falling levels of confidence in leadership.
When the Leadership Forecast was last conducted in 2005, 40 percent of HR professionals reported high confidence in their leaders. That has fallen to 35 percent, and the figure for Australian and New Zealand leaders is only 29 percent.
“The results are concerning, in an era when developing and leveraging leadership talent is considered critical to organisational success. Efforts seem to be failing to achieve their expectations.”
One of the key conclusions of the study was that New Zealand organisations needed to sharpen their focus and content of leadership development practices. That was essential not only to remain competitive, but also to retain talent.
“Our educated workforce and prominent position in the Asia-Pacific market makes us desirable source of talent for new and emerging markets, such as China. If we continue to be net exporters of talent, we will seriously limit our ability to grow.”
The need to improve company culture, and customer relationships, were other top priorities for Australasian respondents.

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