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Strengthening the Middle—Full Report

Global challenges and best practices in mid-level leader assessment and development

The strength of leadership capability at the midlevel is a primary determinant of an organization's ability to execute its business strategy. If organizations want to be successful, they must take stock of the current readiness of their mid-level leaders, and develop them to meet business needs sooner. That begins with benchmarking against those organizations that are doing it right—and achieving the right results.

“We surveyed our top 500 leaders, and received feedback to the effect of ‘What made me successful up to now isn’t working any longer. I can’t solve problems the way I used to before.  I need new skills and tools. How do I navigate these challenges for me, my department, my unit, my country?’ Complexity is fundamentally different today than it was five years ago.”

Andrew Fox, Regional Mars University Director, Australia and New Zealand, Mars Incorporated

The challenge—and confusion—are real. But so, too, is the desire to address it. In fact, the impetus for this study came from a DDI client that challenged us to leverage our vast global network of contacts and clients to identify the best practices leading companies are using to assess and develop their mid-level leaders. What practices have the most impact? What doesn’t work? Which organizations can we look to as leaders? You’ll find the answers in our new study, Strengthening the Middle.

We view this research report as a guide to talent management best practices in assessment and development at the midlevel—a tool that you can use to diagnose your organization’s mid-level approach and to determine next steps so that you can help provide the best talent to support the execution of your business strategy.

Some key themes in the research include:

  • There is a growing recognition that the midlevel holds the key to long-term business performance.
  • Leadership development methods are evolving as dramatically as the mid-level role itself.
  • Organizations are making 70/20/10 add up to success at that midlevel.
  • When it comes to assessing mid-level leaders, 360s are most popular, yet assessment centers are most powerful.
  • Most organizations lack a strategy for integrating assessment and development.
  • When it comes to measuring the impact of their initiatives, most organizations are still trying to “crack the code.”

Skim the executive summary or read the full study.

Talk to an Expert: Strengthening the Middle—Full Report
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