Awakening the leaders in your company

John Sherman

As we move forward into 2017 there is one chief concern that stands out among human resources departments and business leaders: the status of leadership.


The modern workforce is changing at a rapid speed and it’s presenting new challenges for organizations of all types. The recent Human Capital Trends report by Deloitte outlines some of the specific concerns about leadership and how we might address them moving forward.

According to the findings of the report, 89% of companies see leadership as an important or very important issue. 28% of those who were polled responded that they are dealing with weak or very weak leadership pipelines. Clearly organizations are adhering to older models of leadership that need to evolve along with the nature of our global economy and more diverse working environment.

Here’s a statistic that really stands out from the report and highlights the urgency of the current leadership crisis we are facing:

Only 7% of companies feel like they are excellent at building Millennial leaders.


That is an abysmally low number when confidence is so important to the execution of effective leadership. The report goes on to tell us that in 2015 companies spent almost $31 billion on leadership programs. However, according to Barbara Kellerman of Harvard University, many of these programs are structured around story-based solutions that propagate myths, fads, and even superficial solutions that don't really address the underlying issues the companies are facing. Can you guess what this means?

It means that these leadership programs are not producing measurable, lasting, or even reliable results.

The report raises a very interesting and logical question:

If we can invest in IT solutions and see measurable results, then why can't our human resources departments deliver the same type of measurable results?

These are the kinds of questions that investors are asking and it's one reason why HR departments are seeing quite a bit of friction from the “powers” higher up on the food chain.

Another interesting finding from the report is that high-performing companies will outspend their competitors on their leadership by almost 4 times. But it isn't a simple matter of spending more, they are also spending their money much more intelligently.

Naturally, the companies that are blazing ahead in leadership during this somewhat murky time of change are investing in programs that have a solid foundation in research, priorities, and perhaps most importantly, outcome based assessments.

Organizational design is certainly one of the factors that is changing and challenging the nature of leadership today. Now we are seeing more and more organizations embrace a more diverse and “flatter” team environment that is becoming more complex by the day. This means that leadership must be embraced and exhibited by more members of the team. We are experiencing less and less top-down based leadership as our companies evolve.

We talk about “awakening leadership” because the nature of what it means to be a leader is changing today. Organizations and the people within them are demanding leaders that are less supervisors and more coaches who understand how to collaborate with and inspire their people.

Perhaps it's because the Millennials are entering the workforce en masse and that means they are bringing a culture of scepticism and expectations of accountability to the people they look up to. This demographic may not be the most experienced in a corporate environment, but they are one of the most educated groups to enter the workforce and that means they have at least four years of very specific expectations when it comes to leadership.

The solution

  • Utilize analytics and evidence to find talent that may have previously been overlooked.
  • Capitalize on online tools to locate potential talent earlier in their careers and across the global workforce.
  • Work with leaders who are at later stages in their careers to mentor and cultivate our next generation of leaders.
  • Develop a comprehensive leadership system that can identify talent within the organization, narrow your focus on training the employees with the highest level of potential, and provide key opportunities for younger leaders to enhance their skills and experiences so that they can advance quickly.

In conclusion:

This is not simply the information age, but an evolution of the information age. The companies that will succeed as we move forward will understand how to identify, cultivate, and retain the highest degree of leadership talent—those individuals that understand how to adapt quickly and help others do the same.

If you’re looking for resources to help your teams improve their leadership talent, have a look at the Go1 Marketplace. We have thousands of both paid and free eLearning resources to help you.

Go1 helps millions of people in thousands of organizations engage in learning that is relevant, effective and inspiring.
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