A Global Perspective on Executive Development - IEDP
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Executive Development: A Global Perspective

How companies can align their talent management efforts both within their own organizations and with businesses around the world


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Only 32% of global leaders are confident that their organization has the necessary leadership talent and skills to achieve their strategic goals 1

58% of global CEOs are concerned that the lack of key labor skills poses a threat to their companies’ growth prospects 2

This rather troubling assessment was the preface to a presentation from Harvard Business School Executive Education and Publishing Chair Professor Das Narayandas to a group of alumni and clients in Singapore last week.

Titled Global Perspectives on Executive Development, the presentation focused on the Professor's recent research on how companies can align their talent management efforts both within their own organizations and with businesses around the world to produce more capable, insightful and fully-formed global leaders.

The survey statistics prefacing the presentation point to a skills shortage problem that is only going to grow as the world economies come out of recession. Another problem faced by global businesses became apparent during the downturn - as well as finding new leaders companies urgently need to develop the leaders they have to address a set of disruptive new realities. The Art of Strategic Renewal, a recent article from Andy Binns of Change Logic LLC, Stanford University’s Charles O’Reilly, and Harvard’s J. Bruce Harreld and Michael L. Tushman, highlights perhaps the key reason companies urgently need to develop a new generation of leaders fit for the future - the world changes rapidly these days.

Technologies move on and companies adapt -­ or not in the cases of Kodak, Blockbuster, Nokia, and BlackBerry. Through ‘strategic renewal’ the authors believe leaders can guide their organizations to respond rapidly to change, adjust business models, and establish sustainable ways to add value for their stakeholders. Innovation of this kind requires leaders to look beyond the obvious threats, see new possibilities, and find imaginative ways of organizing their business. And it requires capable, insightful and fully-formed global leaders, so begs the question - where are these leaders?

“Business leaders are increasingly recognizing leadership development as a necessity for growth, with more than half of the global CEOs we surveyed identifying the skills gap in the labor force as an impediment to organizational success,” said Professor Narayandas. “Best practice organizations are seeing this trend and developing programs tailored to employee roles, experience and overall corporate strategy. With this event, we’ll review the range of options available and explore how companies can develop an approach that fits their individual needs.”

Looking at the recent HBP survey Professor Narayandas showed statistics on:

  • Organizations’ receptivity to making changes based on external feedback and coaching
  • The comparative usage of a wide range of initiatives to faster executive education
  • Regional variations in approaches to executive development

His presentation focused on some trends that are impacting leadership development, ranging from constraints on internal program development and support, to external pressures like government-mandated spending on education and training. And he went on to discuss some specific challenges and opportunities facing multinational developing leaders in emerging markets.

Finally he looked at three dimensions of best practice in terms of how organizations should plan their executive development initiatives:

  • Scope – the management levels in the organization to be included
  • Breadth – types of delivery from individual coaching to company-wide programs
  • Need – the specific skills needing development

1 HBP Survey of 800+ Global professionals, August 2013
2 PwC 16th Annual Global CEO Survey (2013)

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