Leadership development is the number one priority for HR professionals and senior leaders in the UK, according to Talent Management: Accelerating Business Performance, a global survey by Right Management. More than 2,200 HR professionals and senior leaders globally participated in the survey (including 150 in the UK), 46 percent of which identified leadership development as the top priority for 2014, rising to 54 percent in the UK.

At present, only around one in 10 (14 percent) have confidence in the strength of their leadership pipelines to fill critical openings. As a result, nearly half (45 percent) report that 2014 will be a year of growth marked by increased spending on talent management initiatives to help develop leaders and build talent pipelines. It appears that organisations in the UK and across the globe are beginning to listen to HR professionals and talent managers and are understanding that key talent is the primary source of accelerated business performance.

Ian Symes, General Manager, Right Management UK & Ireland comments: “Boardrooms across the UK are recognising the critical role that HR has in driving competitive advantage. While today’s optimism for growth is a positive outlook, it is limited by lack of organisational agility and employers are seeing the impact of the financial cuts and cost reductions that placed talent development on the back burner.”

“As a result, too many companies are facing talent shortages, skills mismatches and weak leadership pipelines that threaten business growth. Rather than focusing on further cutbacks and restructurings, our research indicates that organisations will be concentrating on investing in talent and this is a positive step. After all, future success is dependent on a sustained strategic commitment to assessing, developing and activating talent.

No business strategy can be successfully executed without a talent strategy that takes into account what skills are needed to move the business forward. Right Management offers the following advice to organisations looking to build a mission-critical leadership pipeline:

  • Assess: Having the right talent in place can help an organisation to exceed their goals and build their brand effectively. Assessing current talent will enable an organisation to capture meaningful insights around individual skills, as well as business culture, to better evaluate the workforce and forecast future needs. This will provide a roadmap for developing and managing talent, and align both the workforce and business direction.
  • Develop: A targeted approach to development that builds capabilities in a variety of ways across all leadership levels is most effective. This includes offering broad-based programmes to all employees to help with career development and employee engagement, whilst focusing specific programmes and coaching around the development of key high-potential talent.
  • Activate: Once organisations recognise that talent is their main competitive advantage, employee development and engagement will be a strategic focus. The sooner businesses respond to the wake-up call, the better results they will see.