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7 leadership skills for financial success in 2015

Companies in the top 20% of financial performance have been found to exhibit seven leadership practices that contribute to their success.

Taking this to 2015, the seventh annual leadership forecast by DDI and The Conference Board, found the business landscape is expected to continue to be classified as "VUCA" - volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.

Organisations in the top 20% of financial performance have taken the lead in adapting to the VUCA climate anticipated in 2015 by putting in action these seven best practices:

1. Leadership skills specific to VUCA challenges: The best performing companies are three times more likely to have VUCA-capable leaders. This capability is defined by four skills - introducing and managing change; building consensus and commitment; inspiring others toward a challenging future vision; and leading across generations.

One in three HR professionals admitted their organisation’s leaders are currently not capable to meet the challenge.

2. Programmes to develop high-potentials: Effective high-potential programmes are three-and-a-half times more likely in high performance organisations. A right pool-size is equally critical. Companies with a larger pool of high-potentials risk lower levels of engagement and retention, since resources may be spread too thin.

3. Prioritising interaction skills: Financially-performing organisations are two times more likely to place value on developing interaction skills over managerial skills. This is likely to reap benefits in terms of highly engaged leaders (two times more likely), strong current leaders (3.5 times more likely), and 20% more of leaders ready to fill critical roles.

4. Making learning a journey: Incorporating a learning journey is three times more likely in the best performing organisations, opposed to a course-list approach to developing leaders. Learning journeys can incorporate planned sequences, on-the-job and formal learning opportunities.

5. Institutionalising high-value analytics: Organisations in the top 20% of financial performance are six times more likely to use analytics to predict future leadership talent needs. Currently, almost half of organisations don't use any kind of leadership analytics well (47%).

An even larger issue is that of 30% of organisations using low-value analytics, such as only efficiency and reactions metrics about leadership programmes. Just about one in five are using higher-value analytics, such as metrics on the business impact of leadership programmes, and targeting the gap between current leader readiness and long-term objectives.

6. Having a ready-now leadership pipeline: Having in place a strong pipeline of ready-now leaders is four times more likely in the top performing organisations. Currently, only 46% of positions across the entire sample could be filled immediately by internal candidates.

7. Ensuring diversity in leadership: The highest performing companies are 12 times more likely to have gender balance in their leadership ranks, with at least 30% of leadership roles held by women. This trend holds true for high-potential women leaders as well.

Image: Shutterstock

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