UPfront: Take me to your… leader?

The emerging realisation that business is in need of good leaders is closely followed by the worry that there’s not enough of them around.

How to best find or develop tomorrow’s business leaders is matter that’s assumed some sense of urgency in light of worldwide research highlighting their shortage. Succession problems, the increased mobility of top talent and dropping confidence in the current crop of leaders add up to what various commentators are calling an emerging leadership crisis.

In New Zealand, the situation isn’t helped by small local pool of potential leaders, and the possibility of increased competition for the offshore models. It also seems we’re more talk than walk when it comes to developing leadership talent.

A recent study on developing leadership capability carried out by the NZ Benchmarking Club reveals gap between what companies consider important in the development of leadership capability and what they’re actually doing to help achieve that. Leadership emerged as major area of concern amongst club members, explains Robin Mann, director of the Centre for Organisational Excellence Research (COER) at Massey University.

“It was their number one priority which is why we undertook research project to specifically address it.” Areas where weakness was identified included active feedback for senior leaders as to their performance, leaders at all levels being held accountable for their behaviours, making leadership development an organisational focus, and effective communication of the company’s vision and strategic direction.

One of the key objectives of the study was to establish best practice framework to help achieve sustainable leadership development. It also aimed to determine the current state of leadership development in New Zealand and identify organisations that are ahead of the play. Facilitated through the COER by research student Erica Holtsbaum, the study project spanned 14 months and involved eight members of the NZ Benchmarking Club.

Full findings will be presented in best practice report due to be sent to Benchmarking Club members early this month, and will be more widely available later in the year.

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