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Poor quality of management and leadership holding back UK productivity

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An extensive study of the demand for and supply of managers and leaders in the UK, identifies management and leadership as a key factor holding back the performance of UK plc, and offers an action plan to create a world-class management culture.

The report, 'Managers and leaders: raising the game', is the culmination of two years consultation and analysis across the UK's public, private and voluntary sectors led by the Council for Excellence in Management and Leadership (CEML).

It highlights a significant mismatch between the supply and demand of management and leadership development, and recommends a variety of interventions. The report claims that these are vital to ensure that Britain's economic productivity is not held back by a lack of appropriate and practical leadership skills, which are "in short supply from the top to the bottom of organisations", despite a rapid expansion of formal management education in the last 20 years.

Looking at the management development industry, the report finds that while the best providers match the best in the world, there is a very long tail of under-performance. It also suggests that the current supply of management and leadership development is not adequately meeting the UK's existing need for more and better managers and leaders, let alone our future needs. Despite uncovering evidence of world class best practice in a minority of leading organisations, the report reveals that there is much more that needs to be done to encourage all enterprises to develop the full potential of their managers and leaders.
And it warns that the need for stronger management and leadership abilities will increase as the pace of change hots up, and as consumers and other stakeholders demand better performance.

Leadership skills in particular appear to be in short supply in the UK: business schools and other training providers come in for some criticism for being light on leadership development and, in general, not sufficiently customised to match organisations' or individuals' needs, most notably among Britain's 3.7 million smaller businesses.

While expressing concern about the unsatisfactory situation in the UK, the report also tables a strategy, developed by the CEML over the last two years, for the UK to create the right environment for the development of world-beating managers and leaders. It looks at how to increase demand for better management talent and training, including within the professions and the small business sector, how to improve supply (ranging from business schools, further education and private providers down to creating more opportunities to pick up basic management and leadership skills through the school and university curricula), and how to better match supply and demand. It also presses government to set up a new Strategic Body for Management and Leadership.

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