Leadership pipelines may be running dry

Companies whose leadership development was short-circuited by cost-cutting during the global financial crisis may be suffering the consequences now.

Leadership development was identified as the top priority for 2014 by almost half (46%) of the more than 2,200 human resource leaders globally participating in a recent survey by ManpowerGroup career and talent management experts Right Management.

Amid that craving for leadership, just 13% of HR leaders said they have confidence in the strength of their leadership pipelines to fill critical openings.

“Today’s optimism for growth is limited by a lack of organisational agility, and employers are seeing the impact of the financial cuts and cost reductions that placed talent development on the back burner,” Ruediger Schaefer, a Right Management group executive vice president, said in a news release. “As a result, too many companies are facing talent shortages, skills mismatches, and weak leadership pipelines that threaten business growth.”

Organisations in some of the world’s largest markets overwhelmingly have plans to beef up their talent management to help develop leaders. At least three-fourths of HR leaders in China/Hong Kong (88%), India (77%), and Brazil (75%) plan increased investments in talent management programmes.

Nearly half of HR decision-makers in the US (48%) and the UK (45%) plan to raise the amount they invest in talent management.

“Future success is dependent on a sustained commitment to assessing, developing, and activating talent,” Schaefer said.

Other findings from the survey include:

  • The top three talent management challenges reported by HR leaders are lack of skilled talent for key positions, shortage of talent at all levels, and less than optimal employee engagement.
  • Succession planning is a higher priority in the Americas (36%) than in the Asia-Pacific region (31%) or Europe (17%).
  • Forty-eight per cent of global employers plan to broaden their employee engagement programs.

Ken Tysiac ( is a CGMA Magazine editorial director.