British firms hamstrung by lack of effective leaders

2006

Two-thirds of British businesses are suffering from a shortage of effective leaders who can manage on a global stage, a new study has suggested.

The research, argued the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, means multinationals face a major challenge in finding capable individuals to lead their businesses across a range of countries and cultures.

In an effort to help businesses, the institute has published guidance, entitled International Management Development, to help organisations attract and retain talented individuals and nurture them into successful leaders.

The case study-led guide has been created to focus multinationals on the issues they face in this area, the growing challenges and how they might overcome them.

Key concerns facing multi-nationals include a lack of local manager buy-in, something that could cause employers to lose high performers to competitors, warned the CIPD.

Frances Wilson, CIPD international manager, said, "It is important to develop an international corporate identity and identify brand values which have meaning internationally."

Employers needed to encourage managers across all their locations to develop an international mindset so they could start to understand the need to think globally, she added.

Staff development needed to have an international focus, she continued. "This will help employers succeed in retaining, investing and developing their high performers," Wilson said.

Dr Hilary Harris, co-author of the report, argued that many local operators still did not see the benefits of engaging in corporate talent development.

"They are often small and too cost-conscious to want to spend time developing individuals who will be moved elsewhere within the organisation," he said.

"Likewise, many managers in local or regional operations are reluctant to let outstanding performers move on to other roles outside their area because they cannot see the direct benefits," he added.

Employers needed to be creating a set of international leadership qualities, he argued.

Developing leaders who could manage internationally and were accepted across the globe was vitally important to business success, Harris stressed.

Employer branding and talent management are intimately linked, the guidance argued.

The ability to recruit the most talented leaders from around the world relied on an organisation's image and brand values, it added.

"Multinational organisations need to create a list of international leader competencies," said the report's other author Dr Michael Dickman.

"These will help make sure employees understand the organisation's international objectives, enable employers to achieve an integrative mentality and nurture diverse thinking and coordination," he added.