Jeff Palfini, in an October 23rd posting on his blog, cites a study from IBM Global Human Capital that found that there is a world-wide concern of human resource executives with identifying and developing the kind of leaders their companies need for future success. I think we need to pay careful attention to this study. First of all, it appears to have solid data. IBM’s research team interviewed, in-person or by phone, 400 HR leaders across many different types of companies and in many worldwide locations. Seventy-five percent expressed concern with emerging leaders in their companies.
Palfini asks the question, “What stands in the way of companies keeping and fully developing leadership talent?” The IBM study identified three critical factors: 1) ability to anticipate skills needed in three to five years; 2) ability to locate experts within their organizations who can address market changes; and 3) ability to collaborate across organizational silos to foster innovation and growth.
I would add a fourth: ability to develop this talent within their organizations. Too often, this ability is relegated to a separate unit (having its own organizational silo), such as a Training Department, or a Leadership Development Department, or a Department of Learning. They are considered to be responsible for developing leadership within the organization. But this is a false assumption. Such a department cannot know the future needs of every part of the organization; and it can’t know who has what skills and who needs to develop what skills; and it can’t make collaboration occur across all silos. Everyone needs to be involved in developing the company’s talent, whether through coaching from executives, or being given special assignments, or offered feedback from direct reports, or engaged in formal training programs. All parts of the organization must contribute to preparing the right leaders for the future. That should not be the sole responsibility of HR or the training function.