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Martin Couzins

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CIPD research shows shortcomings of leadership development in UK organisations


A third of UK leaders rate the quality of leadership as "high" in their organisations, according to research from the CIPD and talent management consultancy DDI.

The UK Highlights: Global Leadership Forecast also reveals that only four in 10 (38%) of both UK leaders and HR professionals rate their organisations' leadership development programmes as highly effective. Twenty per cent of leaders and 24% of HR professionals rate the programmes as ineffective.

Respondents to the survey also revealed what they believed to be the key leadership skills needed to ensure success in the next three years. These were:

  • Driving and managing change (identified by 69% of leaders).
  • Making difficult decisions (34%).
  • Executing organisation strategy (32%).

The research, based on responses from 56 HR professionals and 367 leaders in the UK, also identified leadership development, talent management and management culture as the three drivers of leadership quality.

Vanessa Robinson, head of HR practice development at the CIPD, said: "Leadership development budgets remain tight, particularly in the UK, yet effective leaders make a real difference to the success of organisations. If UK organisations are to continue to be successful on the world stage, then leaders need to be equipped with the key skills that our survey identified.

"UK organisations, like the rest of the world, should focus on opening up decision making in their organisation and creating a set of shared and meaningful values for their employees. Earlier research from the CIPD has looked at this issue of creating a sense of shared purpose and the value that can be achieved for both the employees and the organisation as a whole."

Other findings from the survey include:

  • HR professionals from the UK and around the world report using formal workshops, manager coaching and special projects most frequently to develop their leaders and UK organisations compared to the global comparison report greater use of more formal training.
  • Leaders themselves in both the UK and global samples identified formal workshops as the single most effective development method.
  • Coaching from internal mentors is more widely accepted and utilised by UK leaders (48%) than those worldwide (45%).
  • Computer-based learning such as web-based training (37%) and virtual classrooms (22%) are used less frequently by UK leaders than leaders across the globe (global- web-based training 43% and -virtual 27%).
  • Only 20 % of HR professionals in the UK rated their ability to fill vacant leadership positions (bench strength) as strong or very strong.
  • 81 % of leaders in the UK reported that their individual performance expectations were tied to corporate goals and strategies.
  • 57 % of the UK leaders reported that their performance management systems generally took into account not only what, but how their objectives were achieved.

The report can downloaded from the CIPD website.

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