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Do you have the right leaders for growth?

Do you have the right leaders for growth?

In recent years, organisations have had to react to an unprecedented amount of financial and economic turmoil, resulting in a change of direction for many skills and talent management strategies. The financial pressure on budgets has led to reduced numbers of – and in many cases freezes on – talent developmental initiatives. This has contributed to the gap that currently exists between the kind of talent needed within organisations and the available talent pool.

During the crisis, a number of leadership roles were taken out of the traditional organisational structures, with individuals who possessed a high degree of technical expertise left to lead organisations and keep them functioning. This combination of factors has created a ‘perfect storm’ for organisations to innovate HR processes and focus on leadership development.

A perfect storm for HR innovation and leadership development

As we emerge from the prolonged period of economic instability, organisations are going to be faced with their major challenges arriving all at once – and at speed. Talented Leaders are in short supply, and with the new post-recession environment demanding different leadership skills, more urgency must be given to the need to develop the leaders of the future.

As conditions begin to improve, organisations are now faced with the additional challenge of having a much smaller pool of leaders who are not necessarily equipped with the right skills to deliver their growth strategy.

When you add to this the combination of a range of external factors such as the changed business environment, the increased pace of change, the impact that the new Millennials will have on the dynamics of HR practices, and also the fact that organisations now have much flatter management structures, it is easy to see that HR teams are facing a unique challenge.

Therefore, to secure their talent pools, HR directors must lead their stakeholders through this changed environment; however, this is going to require new ways of thinking.

Different skill sets will be required, with female leadership qualities coming to fore

We recently published the findings of our study into what will be required of emerging leaders in this new world of commerce. The study, entitled ‘Emerging Leaders in Europe: Differences that matter’, examined the responses made by over 400 emerging leaders across Europe to Hudson’s Business Attitude Questionnaire (BAQ). This information was then compared to the responses from over 600 executives and C-Level leaders in order to identify growth factors.

The key findings show that future leaders will need to be more adaptive and flexible in the skills they deploy.

Attributes such a conceptual view, a participative and co-operative leadership style, or the ability to cope with change could prove to be a great advantage in the post‑recession environment.

As many of you will recognise, these attributes are more closely associated with the natural characteristics of female leaders.

When evaluating our findings, we carried out a comparison with an earlier study that looked at the differences between female and male C-level leaders: we found that the differences between male and female emerging leaders are less pronounced than the differences between men and women at C-level. Factors such as results-orientated, autonomy and meticulousness can no longer be considered differences. This could indicate that the differences between men and women in the new generation of leaders are growing smaller, and that there is now an opportunity for women leaders to come more to the fore, as the demand for their natural skills increases.

Development strategies will have to change

To respond to these changes, CEOs and HR directors need to make sure they know the profile of their emerging leaders and can identify where the gaps are, and they also need to be aware of how their development strategies will play a role in closing any identified gaps.

As part of the study, we produced a ‘Growth Potential Model’ consisting of five factors that require focus as part of an emerging leader development strategy.

To find out more about this Growth Potential Model, please check out our next post or come to our Lighthouse seminar at 16 October 2014.

It is imperative that organisations have a clear strategy for developing their emerging leaders of tomorrow. High potential talent management strategies supported by senior executives within the organisation should identify the characteristics of these emerging leaders and focus on their development.

Jeroen Bogaert, Director R&D

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About InTALENTgence

Hudson’s InTALENTgence blog is a qualitative source of HR-knowledge. Read and share interesting stories with insights on current HR issues and trends. Blog posts are written in Dutch, French or English.


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Hudson has more than 35 years of experience and is the undisputed market leader in the HR consultancy sector. Every day, the Hudson HR experts use all their specialist knowledge regarding the recruitment, interim management, development, coaching or compensation of employees to support our customers so they can achieve their ambitions.


Hudson has more than 35 years of experience and is the undisputed market leader in the HR consultancy sector. Every day, the Hudson HR experts use all their specialist knowledge regarding the recruitment, interim management, development, coaching or compensation of employees to support our customers so they can achieve their ambitions.