chess-433071_960_720This week a survey from the CIPD shows a softening in hiring intentions, and this follows the Bank of England’s forecast that unemployment will rise in the coming years. In these uncertain conditions, the UK’s ongoing management challenge must come into sharper focus. Equipping current leaders and establishing strong leadership pipelines will only become more important in this climate, advises The Open University.

The leadership challenge is urgent. Of UK employers, 69 per cent expect to need more people with management skills. Developing leaders remains a top priority among executives, ranking second in overall importance in Deloitte’s 2016 Human Capital Report. Yet despite the prominence of the issue, a startling 40 per cent of Deloitte’s respondents believe that current efforts to develop leadership capability give only ‘some’ value. Only 14 percent described their succession planning as ‘strong’.

IMG_2814_1_crop (2)(2)Steve Hill (pictured right), Director of External Engagement at The Open University, says: “The promise of uncertain times ahead throws a stark light on the need for skilled leaders who can steer their companies effectively. Ineffective management is estimated to be costing UK businesses £84 billion per year, so development of excellent leaders must be one of the top priorities. Even though some companies have outstanding leadership now, succession planning remains a weak area for the majority – indicating an unfortunately short-sighted approach to management skills.

“These issues of course beg the question of how we can best engage leaders and future leaders in training that really makes an impact. Part of the answer to this question must involve moving beyond the model of classroom courses: good leadership preparation must enable individuals to apply learning far more quickly back into the workplace.

“Most importantly, we must all work to reduce the learning-doing gap: by giving leaders access to training in flexible ways which they can fit around their working life, by developing practice-based courses, and by encouraging knowledge sharing wherever possible.

“When you consider these requirements, it becomes clear that technology has the potential to play a vital role. Seventy per cent of leaders are already using mobile devices for different learning opportunities. Engaging with trends like these can transform the way in which businesses develop management capability.”