By Evan Sinar, Ph.D.
In a business environment where analytics outdo intuition, and against a backdrop of a dizzying array of program, practice, and technology options to grow stronger leaders, the steadying role of research becomes increasingly essential. Outcome-focused, context-rich leadership research provides the vital data needed to navigate options, foresee trends, and allocate HR resources.
Toward these goals, DDI, in partnership with EY and The Conference Board, recently launched the latest in one of the largest and longest-running benchmarking and trend research series, the Global Leadership Forecast (GLF). The GLF draws on the perspectives of HR professionals and leaders at all levels and all around the world.
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The Global Leadership Forecast research spans four major domains:
Context and Culture
The Global Leadership Forecast captures key facets of an organization’s culture and context—the environment in which leaders grow and businesses operate. Examples include how embedded the role of purpose is in guiding employee behaviors, how adeptly the company uses data to make decisions, and how strongly influenced they are by digital technology. Each context is a separate continuum on which participating companies are placed and benchmarked against more than 1,000 other companies. This, in turn, will produce prescriptive recommendations about which leader practices a company at one end of a continuum can emulate from those at the other end (for example, what companies struggling to adopt digital technology can learn about talent management from those doing so aggressively and adeptly).
Drivers of Leader Growth
The research also collects information about leadership practices, including core talent practices such as leadership development and assessment, high-potential programs, and performance management—the latter a particular focus this year given the shift many companies are making away from a once-a-year, ratings-based performance management process. By deeply diagnosing talent practices, the research can identify those with the strongest links to leader and organizational outcomes. It also gathers information from leaders about what types and ways of learning they want most, such as coaching, formal training, personalized, or on-demand, and from HR about what development methods are actually in place to help spot and gauge the gaps. Leaders across the globe and across generations are also sharing their experiences with career pathing, advancement, manager support, and other key drivers of engagement and retention.
The research measures leader confidence and readiness on core leader skills such as empathy and execution, as well as emerging skills like digital literacy and leading virtual teams. Mastery and confidence in these skills in turn produces leader readiness to meet broader business challenges like digital transformation, changing customer needs, and managing complexity and ambiguity. By capturing information about skills in both their essence and application, the research will offer a data-driven view of the “recipe” of skills that gets leaders where their companies need them to be—now and over a three-year future horizon.
Outcomes and Impact
Context, growth drivers, and readiness all culminate in leader and business outcomes. These include metrics that we’ve tracked over more than a decade—leader quality across levels, effectiveness of talent development and assessment programs, and “bench strength” (leaders prepared to step into critical roles over the next three years). Example leader outcomes include engagement and retention, work-life balance, and every day accountability for being a leader. Company-level outcomes include turnover and success rates, gender and generational balance in the leader ranks, and reputation (like “Best Places to Work” and “Most Admired”), the latter showing how companies topping these lists manage their talent differently.
Organizations participating in the research can receive a free comprehensive benchmarking analysis of their leadership practices and how they stack up to global, industry, and financially outperforming peers, along with recommendations for triaging and prioritizing the leadership practices with the strongest links to leader and business outcomes. For more information and to access the survey, visit www.ddiworld.com/glfsurvey.
Evan Sinar, Ph.D. is the Chief Scientist and Vice President of the Center for Analytics and Behavioral Research (CABER). Evan is the lead researcher for the Global Leadership Forecast 2017|2018 and is a frequent author and presenter on leadership assessment and development, talent management analytics, data visualization, and generational differences.