3 Leadership Gaps Threatening Your Future

Here’s a truth most organizations are not prepared to admit: leaders are dangerously unprepared to guide their teams through a crisis. 

Critical gaps exist in the development of resilience ready leaders, which is a significant obstacle threatening leaders’ ability to operate with resilience, both personally and professionally. 

It’s not only individuals who get stuck at the intersection of fear and caution when navigating through a crisis; companies often operate in a similar fashion. 

Most organizations have not equipped their leaders to prepare for or handle a crisis when it occurs, causing great consequences. What are these three disruptive gaps?

Gap #1: Lack of Resilience Training 

Leadership development typically concentrates on the organizational values and leadership competencies that companies espouse will make them effective leaders. However, research shows that leadership development programs are not doing enough to prepare their participants to lead with resilience through a crisis. 

PwC concludes from their Global Crisis Survey that “effective crisis management requires a combination of hard structure and ‘soft’ skills — the ability to handle the stress and chaos of crisis, to make decisions under pressure, to communicate the right messages in the right way to the right stakeholders.” 

Results of Deloitte’s annual Global Human Capital Trends study consistently finds that companies are challenged with acquiring and developing future-ready leaders. Eight in 10 survey respondents said that “21st century leadership has unique and new requirements that are important or very important to their organization’s success.” Of those requirements, paramount was an “ability to lead through more complexity and ambiguity.” 

Though organizations are recognizing that the future environment will require resilience-related skills, they are not yet solving for it. 

Gap #2: Leadership Development is Not Multidimensional 

In addition to the resilience-related skill sets and competencies missing in leadership development programs, companies are not taking a multidimensional approach to leadership development. While they may offer a series of leadership workshops, leadership competencies and resilience skills are developed over time using a multidimensional approach: 

  • exposure to varied career experiences where leaders can develop critical skills – mentoring for feedback and guidance 
  • sponsorship to ensure all talent is known and supported 
  • career management to support professionals in achieving their career goals. 

Many companies leave their rising talent to coordinate these additional important dimensions of development on their own. Talent development policies and practices are also outdated, lacking substantive focus on future needs due to the evolving business climate. 

Gap #3: Leadership Pipelines Are Not Diverse and Inclusive 

A lack of investment in preparing a diverse and inclusive pipeline of next-generation leaders has created a gap in available talent that is fully capable and ready when opportunities open up. 

Minority groups are underrepresented in management occupations compared with the percentage of diverse populations in the workforce, according to statistics from Human Capital Media’s Talent Tracker, which integrates data from open sources originating from the U.S. Census, the National Center for Educational Statistics, World Bank, and Bureau of Labor Statistics. McKinsey and Lean In report from their Women in the Workplace study that despite some progress, women are still underrepresented at every level of leadership.

For women of color, the trends are even more concerning. They state that “without fundamental changes early in the pipeline, gains in women’s representation will ultimately stall.” 

Most professionals responding to McKinsey’s Global Survey on Inclusion report that “they encounter barriers to a sense of inclusion regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation.” The study also concludes that “respondents who feel very included in their organizations are nearly three times more likely than their peers to feel excited by and committed to their organizations.” 

Left unaddressed, companies lack the ability to be competitive in a dynamic marketplace, and risk higher turnover of their most promising diverse talent, higher cost to recruit, and a negative impact on employee engagement. 

Closing the Gaps 

These three gaps in developing Resilience Ready Leaders pose a significant threat to your capacity to attain a reliable and sustainable level of resilience required of your organization in the future. 

Developing a clear framework based on Resilience Ready skills today helps organizations design and implement more effective leadership development programs, practices, and training that will work well into the future. 

If you could use support in preparing future-ready leaders, don’t hesitate to contact me at vivian@vivianblade.com.

Vivian Blade
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