Talent management skills ranked as weakest competencies in global leaders

A study conducted by KornFerry International rated 7,575 managers and executives on 67 different leadership competencies. The results show a significant weakness in talent management skills in global leaders around the world. The ten weakest competencies among North American leaders were directly related to their ability to develop, manage and motivate the talent in their organizations: The bottom ten skill rankings of these competencies are as follows:
#58 – Managing through systems
#59 – Understanding others
#60 – Motivating others
#61 – Managing Vision and Purpose
#62 – Confronting direct reports
#63 – Conflict management
#64 – Personal disclosure
#65 – Personal learning
#66 – Developing direct reports and others
#67 – Dealing with paradox

The results were similar for leaders in all six regions polled including North America, South America, Europe, Asia, New Zealand/Australia and Africa. Most disturbing is the fact that #66 “Developing direct reports and others”, ranked as the second lowest of the ten weakest competencies. Yet, we know that this skill is fundamental to effective leadership and critical to the long-term health of any organization. South American executives rated the highest on this point, but even they had this competency scored at #55 out of a possible 67.

My team and I see leaders challenged with this competency every day, as we help them work through their executive talent review process. They struggle to make insightful, clear assessments of their people. That lack of insight and clarity makes it is very difficult to guide the development of others. We also know that even the toughest leaders are often hesitant to “Confront their director reports” (#62). The ambiguity around their assessment of performance weaknesses is frequently at the heart of their reluctance to tackle such issues head on.

After carrying out talent reviews with senior executive teams in dozens of corporations, we estimate that about 10% of executives are naturally strong at assessing and developing their people. While, another 10% are tone deaf to talent management and never really get good at it. In our experience, the remaining 80% of executives can be taught to develop strong talent management skills.

They can learn how to initiate and participate in candid, robust discussions with their peers and their boss regarding managers in the layer or two below them. And they can be guided through a process that will teach them how to properly conduct talent reviews that ultimately benefit everyone concerned.

Source: “The World is Flat … and So Are Leadership Competencies” by Kenneth De Meuse, King Yii Tank, Kevin Mlodzik, and Guangrong Dai. A Korn Ferry International Research Foundations paper. This survey research was conducted in 2008 and 2009.

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