Leadership Development: New Study Shows Future Skill Gaps

A significant gap exists between the leadership skills organizations have now and the ones they will need in five years, according to new research from the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL).    

CCL surveyed 2,200 leaders from 15 companies for its Understanding the Leadership Gap study. Researchers asked executives and managers from an array of corporations and government agencies to consider a set of 20 leadership skills.

Respondents then ranked those skills in terms of how important they will be for success five years from now and how accomplished their colleagues are at them today.  The biggest gaps?  Executives in the U.S., India and Singapore identified the four most important leadership skills needing work as: 

  1. Leading People–knowing how to hire, direct and motivate talented staff
  2. Strategic Planning–translating vision into realistic business strategies
  3. Inspiring Commitment–recognizing and rewarding employee accomplishments
  4. Managing Change–dealing with resistance to change and involving colleagues in the design and implementation of change 

As you look into the future, what do you see?  Are these the biggest gaps for your organization?  More importantly, do you have a plan in place for addressing them?

10 thoughts on “Leadership Development: New Study Shows Future Skill Gaps

  1. Why do organizations state to need these leadership skills in five years? To me, these four skills are required now if not even always as they characterize fundamental principles of our economy.

  2. Great point Nikolaus. The leaders surveyed in the CCL study would agree. What’s interesting is that that these skills have been identified as being even more critical in the future.

  3. Thanks for sharing the info David. Leadership development should start with identifying and focusing in on the most critical weaknesses in order to have the best impact in the least amount of time. Avilar offers an automated competency management system, WebMentor Skills, which helps organizations analyze skills data, build development plans, and reach short and long-term goals. I’ve read quite a bit recently about the major shift in worker demographics within the next 5-10 years and organizations need to prepare. I know we are.

    • Hi Andy,
      Thanks for the comment. Demographics will definitely play a part as we move into the future. Stay tuned for more posts on generational comparisons in upcoming weeks.

  4. Looking at what is taught in management courses in higher ed and comparing that to the worker type that 21st century buiness will need and have, there is considerable gap, and I don’t think these managers know how bad it is. Simply to much management theory focuses on teaching managers how to mushroom employees, but get them to like it. Generation x and y have grown up to expect more open information, and will probebly demand it.

    • Hi Van,
      Thanks for your comment. We couldn’t agree more about the need to make changes in the curriculum of management courses in higher ed programs–especially MBA programs. We think there is too much focus on financial analysis and too little focus on people leadership. We are starting to see some change in a couple of programs, but people management is still not a key focus in most MBA programs.

  5. I wonder what makes these “more important” in the future, too. I’m guessing that the list of things that are going to be important down the road closely mimics the list of areas in which people are currently dissatisfied. It’s probably as much a reflection of the present than anything predictive. Interesting post!

  6. Hi Jason,
    I think you’re right. I think that there is definitely an element of projecting the present into the future. It does show that these skills are perceived as important now and as we move forward. Thanks for the comment!

  7. I think that identifying priorities to address specific critical issues is most effective when we also consider the gestalt. While we can analyze the role down to very discrete skills, the sum of the parts is never equal to the whole.
    Did respondents identify systems thinking, mindfulness and emotional intelligence as critical skills? I think these are the foundation for all the others.

    • Hi George, Thanks for the reminder that we need to be careful when we start to break down leadership into tiny definable skills instead of looking at the bigger picture.

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