Leadership and learning across the world

Companies everywhere are struggling to develop leadership and learning cultures—this is even more true in certain regions. We surveyed executives across North America, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East and Africa and found that workforce strategies are different around the world—as are the outcomes. For example, in the Middle East and Africa, companies are more likely to struggle with leadership and learning.

EMEA leadership Oct 30

As the chart above shows, leadership is lackluster everywhere; just over one-third of companies say leadership talent is sufficient to drive global growth. But the situation is even worse in the Middle East and Africa, where just one quarter say so. Lackluster leadership often points to a lack of learning, as companies that are not motivating employees to learn and develop skills are not preparing them to be the leaders of tomorrow.

EMEA learning culture Oct 30

It makes sense, then, that the Middle East and Africa also are behind when it comes to learning and development. While the region is ahead in mentoring, it lags in retaining, updating, and sharing institutional knowledge; in creating a culture of continuous learning; and in offering incentives for pursuing further education. Meanwhile, executives in North America are ahead—though even those numbers are not as high as they should be. 56% say their company has a culture of continuous learning, and 47% say their company offers incentives for pursuing further education.

Workforce strategies vary by region, but everyone could use improvement. To better meet workforce goals, companies need to focus on learning and development. Finding better leaders who can drive global growth and manage an increasingly diverse workforce starts with developing talent.

Join us today for a webinar on the leadership cliff

Today at 1 pm ET/10 am PT, join Michael Zielenziger of Oxford Economics, Hy Pomerance of Impact International and former CHRO at New York Life Insurance, and Bhushan Sethi of PricewaterhouseCoopers for a webinar on leadership.

We’ll be talking about our research findings, which reveal a lack of adequate leadership at companies around the world. Listen in to the webinar to learn about:

  • Leadership deficits at senior company echelons
  • Employees’ dim view of middle and upper management performance
  • A widespread lack of succession planning
  • Unfulfilled employee expectations for guidance, development, and training

Click here to register for the webinar.

Employees on leadership

We’ve talked a lot about leadership on this blog. Our surveys show that executives don’t feel their companies have the necessary talent to manage diverse, global workforces, and that access to the right leadership is limiting growth initiatives.

The research also reveals that executives and employees don’t see eye to eye on several key issues. But leadership is an exception to the rule; employees agree that leadership in their companies is lackluster.

Just over half of employees say their manager performs well in terms of leadership, and fewer say their manager delivers on providing feedback, mentoring, and sponsoring them for training programs.

Employees say their manager delivers on…manager performance 10 20

Employees also report a lack of confidence in upper management. As the stats below show, companies are falling behind in terms of encouraging collaboration and diversity, cultivating leadership, and providing feedback.

Employees say…employee leadership 10 20

Leadership problems around the world

Our survey reveals serious gaps in leadership across the globe. Executives and employees agree that leaders at their firms are ill-equipped to manage global, diverse workforces, and companies aren’t doing what it takes to ensure they are developing future leaders.

But confidence levels vary across regions. As the chart below shoes, survey respondents in North America, Latin America, and Europe tend to be more assured in their leaders’ ability than respondents in Middle East/Africa and Asia Pacific. In fact, only about a quarter of respondents in Middle East/Africa or Asia Pacific say leadership talent is sufficient to drive global growth.

Leadership by region

As we’ve discussed in previous posts, companies are not cultivating leadership within their organizations—and are likely to face challenges in the years ahead as a result. The situation is even more dire in Asia Pacific, where only 10% of employees say their bosses consider leadership ability important.

Leadership ability Octoer 15

For more on the leadership cliff, check out our webinar next Wednesday, October 22, at 10 am PT/1 pm ET—registration details to follow.

Managing tomorrow’s workforce

We’ve talked a lot on this blog about the broad agreement among employees and executives that leadership is lacking, and the ways this dearth of leadership ability is impeding progress toward business goals.

Leadership October 3

As the chart above shows, just half of executives say leadership at their companies is able to effectively manage talent, and even fewer are prepared to lead a global or diverse workforce—a challenge that will become increasingly important as globalization and a growing number of contingent employees change the nature of work. Companies without talent to manage workforces across continents, in and out of the office, and on and off the payroll will miss out on the growth opportunities realized by those who are ready for these shifts.

Check out this recent Forbes article by Susan Galer, which expands on our research findings and notes that the survey results should be a catalyst for change among companies looking to address tomorrow’s talent needs.

The leadership cliff

Executives and employees agree that leadership in their organizations is lacking. Executives cite a lack of adequate leadership as the number two impediment to achieving goals of building a workforce to meet future business objectives (behind lack of employee longevity and loyalty but ahead of lack of adequate technology). And only 35% say talent available in leadership positions is sufficient to drive global growth—a big problem in a workforce that is increasingly diverse.

And while executives are worried about their leadership capabilities, they aren’t doing what it takes to cultivate leadership in their companies. Just 43% say that when a senior person leaves, they tend to fill the role from within the organization, and even fewer say they plan for succession and continuity in key roles.

Succession planning

Even worse, just 19% of employees say that leadership is among the most important attributes bosses are looking for in their employees.

None of these findings point to a rosy picture for the future workforce. That’s unfortunate, because to thrive in the global economy companies will need to develop leadership in their companies by supporting employees, encouraging workers to learn new skills, and planning for succession.

Richard Branson on leadership

Our huge global survey shows that leadership is lackluster at most companies—not only are employee satisfaction rates low, but executives are not offering the feedback and development opportunities that their employees want and need.

Richard Branson, famed British entrepreneur and investor, has recently released a book on management. In The Virgin Way: How to Listen, Learn, Laugh and Lead, Branson shares what he has learned about being a leader from over 40 years in business.

 In an interview with The New York Times, Branson expands on a few of his approaches to management, including his companies’ occasional hiring of ex-convicts and his opinion on how unhappiness at work begins. While Branson may not have every answer, his success in business—and his likeliness to be named an ideal boss by British respondents to a Reed poll—suggest he may have some pointers.

2020 Workforce news roundup

Debunking the myth that jerk bosses get results (FastCompany): Bosses like Steve Jobs and Gordon Ramsey earned notoriety for their harsh treatment of employees—and plaudits for getting results. This article argues that such leaders are successful in spite of, not because of, their attitudes.

The skills leaders need at every level (Harvard Business Review): When HBR asked 332,860 bosses, peers, and subordinates what skills are most important to a leader’s success, the top qualities were very consistent, suggesting that the core competencies required of leaders do not change as they move up the corporate ladder. Developing those traits throughout your career, and always preparing for the skills you’ll need at the next level, may be a key to success.

Employees using social media before making any career move (The Economic Times): A new Kelly Services report says that employees are increasingly using social media to learn specifics about companies, including workplace conditions and reputation, before putting in applications.

Millennials at Work: Young and Callow, Like Their Parents (The New York Times): Many think that Millennials are unprepared, lazy, and difficult to manage—but that doesn’t make them any different from the generations that preceded them.

Envy in the workplace

Though envy is a common emotion—especially as social media magnifies the successes and failures of our peers—it is rarely acknowledged in the workplace. How does our tendency to compare ourselves to others affect us at work? What contributes to these feelings, and what are the effects?  A recent article from Knowledge@Wharton looks into these questions and more.

According to Shimul Melwani, a professor at UNC’s Kenan Flagler Business School, “Envy is rife in the workplace because a large number of people work on teams with peers who are like us, but who are also competing with us for scarce resources…There are so many different dimensions on which we compare ourselves to others.”

Feelings of envy can be destructive, potentially leading employees to undermine each other or hindering effective collaboration. On the flip side, envy can be a tool for improving performance, motivating employees to match the success of their peers. Researchers suggest that management acknowledge the tendency to feel jealous of peers, and neutralize them by minimizing iniquities among team members and setting collective goals for the group—and, of course, recognizing that some competition can be a good thing. Unfortunately, our surveys suggest that such finely-tuned leadership skills may be beyond the grasp of many companies.

Regular communication fosters employee development, satisfaction, loyalty

Leadership and management are hot topics in the news as companies realize that talent is a strategic asset.

We’ve been talking on this blog about the preliminary results of our huge global survey—one of which is the lackluster leadership at many of the companies we surveyed. This recent article by Monique Valcour on the Harvard Business Review blog argues that great management requires a thorough understanding of what drives each member of the team—which includes regular, timely communication around development .

Our 2020 Workforce research points to a similar conclusion. Communication is essential to employee satisfaction and training—regular feedback and conversations around development not only close communication gaps between employees and executives, but also engender loyalty to the business.

According to Valcour, coaching employees will “build stronger bonds between you and your team members, support them in taking ownership over their own learning, and help them develop the skills they need to perform and their peak.” Beyond the benefits for the business and its employees, Valcour notes that the benefits of coaching extend to managers, who are likely to be more satisfied with and energized by the management process.