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Leadership Development at Top of Corporate Agenda

Employers see leadership development as a top priority, a new study has found, but many are struggling to implement it effectively.


There has always been some debate about whether a great leader is born or made, but organisations know they have to work on developing their best talent to become future leaders. However, a new survey from Deloitte shows that although organisations understand the importance of leadership development, many are still unprepared and ill-equipped to cultivate the potential among their employees.

The UK Human Capital Trends 2014 report shows that developing effective leadership is the most important issue for UK organisations this year, with a score of 74 per cent on the study’s Importance Index.


It makes sense that companies might want to focus on tightening up their talent pipelines to create the next generation of leaders. A report from the Department for Work and Pensions published last year showed that 27 per cent of the UK workforce is over 50, a figure that will rise to a third by 2020. As these workers approach retirement, there will be a vacuum at the senior end of businesses unless new talent is prepared to take its place.

But although leadership development has suddenly surged in significance – it lingered in fourth place last year – it seems that companies are still not in a position to tackle the issue head-on. In fact, there is a substantial gap between the importance attached to leadership development and organisations’ ability to cope. The Readiness Index stood at just 43 per cent when it came to being prepared for the challenge.


According to Deloitte, if businesses don’t get into gear and equip themselves to nurture their talent, there is a strong chance that young workers with high potential will simply look elsewhere for opportunities to progress.

“To tackle the changing workforce – one that’s younger, more demanding and more dynamic than ever – business and HR leaders need to reengineer, innovate and transform their human capital strategies and practices, founded on a deeper understanding of the 21st century workforce,” said David Parry, head of Deloitte’s human capital practice.

“2014 will require much re-engagement with employees and the creation of new internal development opportunities, to ensure retention and evolution of workforce skills to meet new demands.”

Retention and employee engagement together took third place in the Importance Index, with a score of 70 per cent. It seems that employers are beginning to wake up to the fact that talented individuals need, and indeed expect, the right opportunities to advance their careers.

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