December 2012
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TD Magazine

Shifting Leadership Capability

Monday, December 10, 2012

A recent study by SHL, a talent measurement solutions firm, reveals the top 25 countries with the greatest supply of leadership talent, according to information gathered from the company's talent analytics database.


The United States currently ranks fifth in the world, but experts at SHL predict the nation may slide further down the totem pole if U.S. companies don't show more aggression and precision in recruiting, developing, and retaining future talent. Mexico, Turkey, Egypt, Switzerland, and Brazil have the most potential leaders and are poised to spring ahead in the future as the fruits of their leadership development efforts ripen.

Although emerging economic players look to countries like the United States for best practices in leadership development, they often find already-established economic powers looking straight back at them.

"The old model of sending homegrown talent to run operations in other geographies is now under scrutiny, and has not had a great deal of success to date—particularly for U.S. and Japanese companies," says Eugene Burke, director of design and innovation at SHL. "Its cost and sustainability are frequently challenged. Many organizations are now turning to the strategy of growing local leaders."


This approach is not so well-charted. "There is no one-size-fits-all strategy," insists Burke. "You need good data to understand the strengths, aspirations, and engagement of your international leadership talent pools, as well as the needs of your local, regional, and central operations, so that you can match talent to opportunity."

While economic powers struggle to expand their leadership on a global scale, emerging countries are focused on switching from mass production of goods and services to more sophisticated production as they compete for higher value markets and market segments. This places a stronger emphasis on transformational capabilities such as innovation.

Leaders around the world also need to have stronger people and cultural skills, something SHL emphasizes in its report. "Moving into a leadership role is about how to frame and communicate the future effectively for entire work teams, functions, and organizations," says Burke. "Our data shows that one in two managers and professionals have low to very low leadership potential. … Knowing who has that potential is critical. It is about whether a company has good people intelligence on their leaders, which allows [the firm] to evaluate those leaders in the context of their sector, business function, and the geographies they operate in."

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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