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7 Statistics You Can't Ignore About Leadership Development

Beth Thornton

February 8, 2018

Leadership. It’s the skill that finds its way into just about every cover letter, job description and career page. Candidates pursue careers that support leadership development while talent acquisition teams dream of applicants with leadership skills. Unfortunately, this often creates a chicken or the egg situation where organizations aren’t prepared to train for the leadership roles they expect employees to take. Then, employees never make it into higher level roles they could excel at or they end up earning management positions they aren’t qualified to hold.

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Leaders aren’t born, they’re made, right? Unfortunately, these leadership development statistics unveil a bit of a dissonance in how companies are leading their leaders:

77% of organizations report they’re currently experiencing a leadership gap.

A large majority of companies are struggling to find people who can lead, whether they are hiring from within or sourcing external talent pools. And if recent research is any indication, there is a good chance misunderstandings on all levels of business could cause the gap to only continue to grow. For example, most adults believe the responsibility to grow successful workforce skills and education falls onto the individual, but only 52% of colleges and 49% of employers agree. In other words, incoming and future talent might be caught in a gap of their own. They will continue to pursue higher education and employment in hopes of gaining critical skills, while many of those very institutions aren’t prioritizing their development.

US Companies spent $160 billion on employee training and education.

The organizations who know it’s important to see their employees expand their knowledge and skills are putting in a good chunk of change. In fact, a total of $365 billion was spent the same year globally, meaning the US alone is spending over a third of the global total.

83% of organizations say it is important to develop leaders at all levels.

That’s not surprising when you consider the dollar amount US companies invested in employee training and education. Unfortunately, only 5% have fully implemented development at all levels. So while there is investment, how that investment is dispersed might not be as efficient.

Only 10% of CEOs believe their company’s leadership development initiatives have a clear business impact.

McKinsey’s survey of 500 executives only continues to support the inefficient spending and organization companies seem to be experiencing in leadership development. Of course, executives might be too far removed from where a large portion of leadership training is granted, however, the effects should be noticeable throughout the entire company. Leadership is crucial to succession planning and developing an organization with a solid structure, so if CEOs are questioning the initiatives, there’s a problem.

89% of executives surveyed believe strengthening organizational leadership is a top priority.

Luckily, the C-Level isn’t under the impression this effort to develop leaders is a waste. The number has probably increased as companies continue to struggle with finding the right skilled workers. While there might be disagreements on who should provide the training to the incoming workforce, there is no confusion that it needs to exist in a healthy, successful company. Especially as younger workers are prioritizing skill development and career trajectory high on their employer wish list. Actually, 87% of millennials rate "professional or career growth and development opportunities" as important to them in a job while 69% of non-millennials agree.

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63% of Millennials said their leadership skills were not being fully developed.

If CEOs and execs aren’t impressed, neither is incoming Millennial talent. Another survey found that 71% of Millennials expect to leave their employer in the next two years and are unhappy with how their leadership skills are being developed. If you think considering this generation’s expectations is unnecessary, then you might have missed the memo that they now make up most of the workforce. Plus, 69% of other generations agree there should be potential to grow their career anyway. Simply put, skill and leadership development is pretty universal.

81% of employees reporting to recently trained managers said they were more engaged in their jobs.

It’s not all bad news here. When a company improves their approach to training and developing managers and leaders, the results are astounding. The surveyed organizations those managers worked within also reported 114% higher sales, 70% lower turnover, 71% higher customer satisfaction and 90% lower absenteeism just to name a few.

Ready to start developing your company’s leaders? Take a small step by subscribing to our monthly leadership newsletter or following us on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook for weekly advice. If you’re tired of small steps and need a plunge into improved organizational performance, explore Inspire Software’s unique approach to performance management.