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Mar 26, 2014

Last week, I discussed one of the trends (re-skilling HR teams) called out in Deloitte’s annual Global Human Capital Trends report for 2014.

Recently released and influenced by the work of Bersin by Deloitte, the report examines 12 trends that represent the way employees today are driving their organizations to innovate and transform human capital practices.

The report, as usual, is full of interesting data on human capital management trends and observations about the impact of those trends. It is definitely worth a read.

This week, I’d like to look at another top talent issue facing organizations around the world as identified by Deloitte: leadership.

The No. 1 talent issue for organizations today

Leadership is cited as the No. 1 talent issue organizations today face, with 86 percent of respondents surveyed citing leadership as “urgent” or “important.” This is compared with a meager 13 percent of the same respondents that claim they are doing an excellent job developing leaders at all levels.

So of all the trends discussed in Deloitte’s survey, this marks the largest “readiness gap.” Developing the next generation of leaders is urgent, yet very few report meeting the challenge.

When it comes to organizational strategies, most are requiring some significant tweaks due to the increasingly global, tech-savvy, interconnected, and diverse people who are the 21st Century workforce, and leadership development is not exempt from this.

Organizations are facing challenges such as developing multiple generations of leaders – not just Millennials, developing leaders with high flexibility and global fluency, and ensuring that leaders have the skills to understand and adapt to rapidly changing technologies. Essentially, leadership is taking on a much broader meaning than it did previously, where it may have described simply developing the next CEO or company C-Suite executive.

Looking at responses from executives who participated in Deloitte’s survey paints a clear picture of perceived leadership gaps. Some 66 percent reported believing that they are “weak” in their ability to develop Millennial leaders, and just 5 percent rated themselves as “excellent.”

Additionally, 51 percent of executives have little confidence in their ability to maintain clear, consistent, succession programs, and just 8 percent feel they have “excellent” programs to build global

A need to focus on 3 aspects to develop leaders

It becomes clear then that as the global recovery continues to strengthen and organizations start to execute on growth strategies, that these gaps can only be filled by intentional focus and commitment to leadership development and training programs at all levels.

Deloitte’s report suggests that companies should start by engaging their own top executives to develop leadership strategies and actively participate in them; refresh previous leadership strategies to link with evolving business goals; and implement a unique leadership program.

They recommend that organizations focus on three aspects for developing leaders:

  1. Developing at all levels;
  2. Developing global leaders locally; and,
  3. Developing a succession mindset.

If companies want to grow in a global world, they need to grow global leaders. And Deloitte’s research shows clearly that this doesn’t happen by accident.

This originally appeared on China Gorman’s blog at