July 2013
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TD Magazine

Help Wanted: High Potential Leaders

Monday, July 8, 2013

Survey examines how organizations are defining critical leadership skills for the future.

Talk about a skills gap: According to a survey by the talent management solutions firm Right Management, the top concern for HR executives is the lack of high-potential leaders in today's workforce. Another pressing concern is an apparent shortage of talent at all levels.

Organizations everywhere are preoccupied with the lackluster leadership potential in their ranks. What exactly are they seeking?

"Tomorrow's leaders will be visionary Human Age leaders," says Gerald Purgay, senior vice president of Right Management. "They will become curators of information and coaches for their teams, possessing opposing skill sets; strategic yet tactical, conceptual yet action-oriented; having the ability to anticipate and react; and always pushing the boundaries of what's next."

Seems like a tall order, but organizations are stepping up to it. Right Management's report, Talent Management Challenges in an Era of Uncertainty, reveals how organizations are ramping up their leadership development programs. Current leaders are sitting down to define the critical leadership competencies for their organizations (thinking up to five years out). They are communicating with all employees about their career goals and development needs, and engaging in intensive coaching sessions with those tapped for future leadership positions. More importantly, they are taking a good, hard look at the return on their talent investments.

Although organizations struggle to establish effective leadership development programs, they're honing in on a general prototype of a future leader: those with high technology acumen, who can communicate and work efficiently across an organization, and who can influence those other than direct reports.


Not only does the current skills gap demand more effort in this arena, the current workforce demands it: Gen Y workers expect to quickly ascend the career ladder, or be given increasingly challenging assignments as their competency builds. According to the Right Management study, Gen Yers frequently complain that their managers do not engage them in conversations about their careers.

So despite the universal alarm over the leadership skills gap, and the resulting scramble to build state-of-the-art talent management programs, it's possible that managers are overlooking one simple approach: Take an interest in the career interests of your younger workers.

About the Author

Stephanie Castellano is a former writer/editor for the Association for Talent Development (ATD). She is now a freelance writer based in Gainesville, Florida.

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