Good leadership drives good business—but training is out of step with what’s needed

It’s not a newsflash that management and leadership make a big difference to business success. The evidence keeps pouring in. Yet recent reports from Deloitte and Towards Maturity flag two outstanding issues: the leadership pipeline continues to run low, and the training and performance support offered to managers and leaders is largely not cutting it.

leadership business

The case for supporting the business leaders of today and tomorrow is huge, so is there more L&D should be doing to step up to the challenge? Well, yes. We’ve taken findings from five key reports to dish up some trends we think you need to know—namely that mobile, digital, and blended learning need to step forward.

Why good leadership and management matter to business

Unsurprisingly, leadership and management matter to the performance of a business. Here’s some headline stats that back this fact:

  • Best-practice management development increases organizational performance by 23% (BIS)
  • Ineffective management costs UK businesses over £19 billion per year (BIS)
  • Effective management improves levels of employee engagement (BIS)
  • Organizations that engage employees see 22% higher profits and 21% higher productivity (Gallup)
  • 86% of global HR and business leaders cited leadership as a top issue (Deloitte 2015)

In modern organizational setups, where hierarchical pyramid structures are turning to flatter, more team-based networks, the strengths of leaders and managers actually seems to matter more, not less. As Deloitte puts it in their 2016 article on identifying future leaders, they are having to work together in new ways and bring together “generations, geographies, functions and internal and external teams.”

Leaders and managers are expected to do a lot—hire, coach, develop, inspire, engage and retain great people, and grow global teams. The need for the right kinds of attitudes and behaviors is paramount, as is the need for organizations to spot these aptitudes in new potential leaders:

“The goal is to create a robust pipeline of new, more innovative leaders that take advantage of the strengths and skills of both younger and older leaders.” Deloitte 2016

Yet the stats don’t stack

While leadership is cited as being of top importance to organizations, Deloitte’s 2015 report states that:

“Only 6 percent of organizations believe their leadership pipeline is ‘very ready’—pointing to a staggering capability gap.”

BIS backs this as “nearly three quarters of organizations in England reported a deficit of management and leadership skills.”

It’s not just about the pipeline for future managers and leaders, either. There’s some scary stats around people’s present managers:

  • 43% of UK managers rate their own line manager as ineffective (BIS)
  • 65% of employees say they’d take a new boss over a pay raise, and
  • 50% of employees who don’t feel valued by their boss plan to look for another job in the next year (Huffington Post)

This article isn’t about ganging up on all the managers and leaders out there, nor about creating sweeping statements about them all. Instead, let’s turn to how these potentially overwhelmed and busy people are being trained and supported.

The current picture: the needs of leaders vs. what they get

In their Excellence in Leadership Development Report, Towards Maturity set out that when it comes to leadership and management training, “learning innovation, done well, is impacting bottom line business results.”

Yet in most cases, there’s a divide between what leaders and managers want and need to learn to do their jobs, and what L&D offers:

learner voice perspective

Source: Towards Maturity report

While managers and leaders are naturally drawn to digital, mobile, and social learning, these are severely lacking in most solutions.

“80% of managers say that their organization is failing to use digital to improve the quality of management development.” Chartered Management Institute

Many managers and leaders feel that digital is being used because it’s cheaper, and not because it can actually be better.

So, what’s the answer?

The key is to get blended, to go digital, and, critically, to smarten up digital offerings to tie in with personal, current needs and the long-term development of individuals.

With over seven of ten leaders using their mobile devices for learning, your solution will be missing a trick if it’s not multi-device.

But any online learning needs to be designed with the audience clearly in mind—to provide quick look-up performance support tools that can be used at work alongside longer term challenges that help grow behavior changes and new skills.

It’s got to be social, but that doesn’t necessarily mean whisking everyone away for a two-day conference. Consider how you can take social learning and networking to leaders and managers using online tools, polls, and forums.

Next steps

Looking to make the move from face-to-face to online or blended learning for your leaders and managers? You might find our series of posts around this useful.

Or if you’re looking for a simpler, faster way to produce multi-device learning, then an authoring tool like Elucidat could help. Learning created in Elucidat can be delivered outside an LMS, supporting the needs of a flexible, modern workforce. It could even be used by potential recruits to find their leadership savviness.

With such an apparent gap in the industry, we’ll be doing a follow-up post that delves deeper into what a modern, digitally-driven blend might look like for managers and leaders.

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Steve Penfold

Steve Penfold

Steve Penfold is the Chief Executive of Elucidat. He helps large companies and training providers speed up and simplify their elearning authoring.
Steve Penfold

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