The Looming Leadership Gap

David Altman and Roland Smith of the Center for Creative Leadership analyse why both developed and emerging economies may well suffer a leadership gap at all levels of business.

Say the word leader and it often generates an image of a charismatic person in charge or someone who sits in the “C-suite” (a corporation’s top executives) issuing orders to others.

Leadership development, too, has been highly geared toward senior-level people in formal organisations or those being groomed for senior roles. Indeed, most people see leadership development and executive education as synonymous.

But if we unpack what leadership development does rather than who receives it, it has a great deal of relevance to enhancing the effectiveness, satisfaction and productivity of all people in all roles.

In EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) there is a looming leadership gap at opposite ends of the work pyramid. The gap at the top of the pyramid is more widely recognised in medium to large companies, many of them family owned or controlled, struggling with succession planning and developing high potentials in the midst of an unrelenting recession.

But the leadership gap at the base of the pyramid is just as serious, with youth unemployment rising throughout EMEA by one estimate at an increase of 58% in Europe alone since 2006. Even those young people with jobs face enormous insecurity and demands to accomplish more with less. They dare not of losing their jobs.

We think the base of the pyramid represents vast untapped talent resources for future leadership and the top of the pyramid underutilises the potential of the senior talent that resides there.

The changing nature of leadership

Since 2003, the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®), a global leadership development provider and research body, has tracked changes in the nature of effective leadership. It is clear that globalisation has enhanced the complexity of the challenges faced by leaders at every level. And the economic crisis seems to be accelerating the speed with which leaders need to find solutions for these core challenges.

The results of our research have implications for addressing the leadership gap by identifying needs and the kind of development to address those needs.

For the full article, you can view the PDF or listen to the podcast.

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