Leaders are faced with challenges every day. Some large. Some small. In today’s 21st-century workforce, there is one significant challenge that is weighing on the minds of company leaders across industries around the world. The challenge – developing future leaders. 

There are several macro shifts that are contributing to the urgent need to develop next-generation leaders. The first is the war on talent. The second is the silver tsunami. With a looming scarcity of talent, ensuring that your next wave of leaders are prepared to lead can help mitigate the risks associated with not having access to a talent pipeline. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the current leaders to identify, invest, and groom high-potential talent and ensure that they are intentionally developed. After all, they are the folks who will be taking over when existing leaders retire – which is happening at an unprecedented rate. 

Herein lies the issue: historically, organizations have not succeeded at developing future leaders. One of the reasons is reflected in the rapid demographic shift we are currently experiencing. To say this is uncharted territory would be putting it lightly. In the past, time was on our side as younger employees would “work their way up the ladder”. In other words, they had ample time to observe and learn what to do.

This, however, is no longer the case. 

In fact, companies are admitting that they are struggling. In a Deloitte study, 28-percent of those surveyed said the leadership pipelines at their organizations are weak or very weak. The organizations themselves acknowledge their failure with only 7% reporting that they are excelling at developing young, Millennial leaders. 

These numbers are cause for concern. 

Below is research on just how important global leaders find this challenge to be, even though many admit to not yet conquering the issue. 

From the Conference Board’s “Global Leadership Forecast 2018: 25 Research Insights to Fuel Your People Strategy”

Of the 28 challenges to choose from, developing ‘Next Gen’ leaders and failure to attract or retain top talent were rated in the top five by 64 percent and 60 percent of respondents, respectively. 

From The Conference Board’s “In 2019, CEOS are Most Concerned About Talent and Recession”

Developing the next generation of leaders is the 3rd internal concern for CEOs globally.

From CNBC’s “Survey: CEOs are worried about 3 things this year – and No. 1 is whether you plan to quit”

CEOs cited the challenge of developing leaders for the next generation as their third biggest internal concern. The survey showed that executives recognize the need to invest in succession planning for future achievement.

From Korn Ferry’s “Leadership development: CEOs’ strategic powerhouse”

In a recent survey by Korn Ferry with almost 7,500 respondents, more than 80% of whom said they were at the C-suite or director level or above, 62% have examined their organization’s leadership capabilities and see gaps that need filling. Further, only 17% of survey respondents said they were confident they have the talent needed to deliver on strategic priorities. Developing leaders from within the organization is a priority for driving change.

Organizations cannot take the back seat and wait for leaders to arrive. Today’s business landscape demands a proactive approach in developing bench strength. This will take a serious commitment of time and resources by the organization. If companies continue to turn a blind eye to the issue, however, the consequences stand to be substantial.

The commitment to developing your next generation of leaders will be the factor that separates you from your competition. How will you face this challenge?