Nearly 75% of current leaders say successors aren’t fully equipped to ascend corporate ranks; CEB recommends accelerated development to narrow leadership gap
The Corporate Executive Board released findings that indicate leaders across Asia fear the rising class of business executives lacks the experience and related skills essential to effective leadership. In a survey of more than 3000 executives globally, nearly 75% of those in the region questioned their successors’ readiness to move into a leadership role, revealing a leadership gap between Asia’s current and future stars that will require immediate attention if aggressive business goals are to be realized.
The leadership gap is due in part to the fact that the next generation of leaders is made up of relatively young, inexperienced employees. While they have achieved rapid career advancement, many lack the fundamentals required to succeed in the transition from operational to leadership responsibility. On average, this group has six fewer years’ experience than their counterparts in other countries and is likely to have moved up through a series of opportunistic career moves, hopping from company to company and promotion to promotion.
“Our research suggests that strong, capable leadership will be critical to realizing Asia’s growth potential and to reinforcing its history of innovation. However, executives across the region are expressing grave concern about the readiness of their rising stars to take the helm,” said Tom Monahan, CEO and chairman, CEB. “Current leadership questions whether the next generation has the years and diversity of experience required to succeed. Their concerns are well founded, given that the next generation continues to ascend the corporate ladder without seeing the long-term effects of their business decisions or having learned critical skills commonly gained through years on the job. If companies across Asia want to achieve long-term business goals, they must accelerate executive development and narrow the leadership gap.”
The leadership gap is apparent not only to current leaders but to a broad employee base as well. When asked to evaluate next-generation executives, employees throughout Asia score them lower across all five leadership capabilities CEB has found most critical to effective leadership. These include team building, communication skills, problem solving, enterprise vision and strategic thinking. In fact, employees rated next-generation executives lower on all 15 leadership capabilities explored except one, business acumen.
This suggests that employees believe their emerging leaders know the business basics of their market better than outsiders, but they don’t know how best to mobilize an organization to succeed in it.
Attracting capable leaders is important, but unfortunately insufficient to bridge the leadership gap. Organizations must also retain current emerging leaders, accelerate their development and enable them to succeed.
Progressive companies across Asia are pursuing four core strategies to improve leader effectiveness: