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Lack of executive sponsorship is main roadblock to leadership development: Korn Ferry

The respondents indicate there is not only a general lack of active sponsorship but also express disappointment in leadership development. programs.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Dec 15, 2015, 12.47 PM IST
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Picture for representation purpose only.
Picture for representation purpose only.
MUMBAI: A study by global advisory firm, Korn Ferry, points to why leadership development efforts may not be successful in many organisations, and offers tangible advice on how to course correct for better outcomes.

Korn Ferry’s “Real World Leadership” study of more than 7,500 executives from 107 countries found that a “lack of executive sponsorship” is the chief barrier to successful leadership development efforts.

According to the statement, the respondents indicate there is not only a general lack of active sponsorship, buy-in, and support from the top, but also express disappointment in leadership development programs, with 55 per cent of respondents ranking their return on such efforts as only “fair” to “very poor.”

“Executives have identified the crux of the problem. The next step is to identify practical steps to create a solution,” said Korn Ferry senior partner and global head of leadership development, Noah Rabinowitz. “Given the central role leadership plays in the success of any organization, the view of leadership development has to shift from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must have’ business process, as integral as the supply chain, marketing or IT. Organizations are already investing heavily in leadership development, but they want to ensure that these resources are being spent wisely and producing desired results.

The study also found that executives say filling gaps in their leadership pipeline is a top leadership development priority, articulating a clear business case to establish effective development programming.

“The first step in gaining executive buy-in for leadership development is to start with strategic business needs,” said Korn Ferry principal consultant, Dési Kimmins. “Executives must examine what challenges the organization currently faces, where the business is going, and the leadership profile that will help the company get where it needs to go. This process starts with the C-suite, and must sustain that level of endorsement and sponsorship to be successful. The most senior leaders need to engage in the development strategy and insist the impact is regularly measured and reported.”

Beyond the need for senior executives to set the development strategy for the entire organization, the study highlights a need for top leaders to take part in their own development. A common mistake is to assume that executive development should be pared down as executives move to higher levels in the organization.

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