Understanding Your Clients' Leadership Struggles

This is a guest blog post, written by Ian Cameron at The McQuaig Institute. 

Are you trying to build or grow the leadership consulting side of your business? I talk to more and more executive search firms that are doing just that. If you’re among them, you’d probably like to know some of the challenges that your clients are facing with respect to identifying and developing leaders. Well, you’re in luck! The results from a global study we recently conducted offer some fascinating insights – and opportunities.

The 2016 McQuaig Global Talent Recruitment Survey asked nearly 450 HR professionals from around the globe about their challenges regarding attracting and retaining talent. For the first time, we also asked them to tell us about their own leadership and how their organizations are supporting those leaders. What we got back was a fascinating look at how leadership is affecting recruitment and how companies with strong leadership are approaching recruiting challenges differently.

Here’s a look at their specific challenges they’re having with leadership and what they might mean for you in terms of an opportunity to help them.

Quality of leadership

We asked respondents to rate how effective they felt their leaders were. Just 25% rated their leaders as “very effective”, while the majority (61%) felt they were only “somewhat effective” and 14% felt their leaders were ineffective.

That means 75% of people in leadership roles are adequate, or worse. Can your clients hang onto their best individuals when so many of them are underwhelmed by their leaders? 

Leadership training

If we have ill-equipped people in leadership roles, as the numbers suggest, then surely we’re supporting them with training so they can perform in the job? Not according to our respondents.

Nearly 40% said their company has no leadership training program.  When you combine that result with the fact that 75% of leaders are just “okay”, I have to assume that’s having an impact on company performance.

Of the 62% of companies that do offer leadership training, most of that is targeted at new managers, with less than half of those providing training (or about 30% of all companies) to the C-Suite executives.

This result doesn’t surprise me. I spent 11 years in the leadership training business and I found that the people signing the checks were much more likely to recognize the need for training in their juniors than they were in themselves. It makes it no less worrisome, though.

We all need constant learning and development to grow, and to even keep pace with a changing world. I’m not sure how a CEO can manage if they aren’t getting access to development. If you can convince your clients of the need to support these leaders with development, there is a huge, untapped market waiting for you.

Succession management

Nearly half (49%) of those polled said they have no formal succession management program in place. That means that many of them will be forced to either fill the role with an ineffective leader from inside, who will get no training, or look for an external hire.

In AESC’s recent report Executive Talent 2020, 72% of clients indicated that they would be open to working with their executive search partner on succession planning today. This number climbed to 79% when respondents were asked whether they would work with executive search firms on it in the future. There is clearly a client need here, representing a significant opportunity for consulting firms who have an extensive knowledge of executive talent pools and skill requirements.  

How does this help you?

From our research, we know that HR does not exactly have overwhelming confidence in the quality of their leadership. We also know that most organizations aren’t doing anything to improve the situation, such as providing leadership development and succession management. From parts of the survey I didn’t cover here, we also know that the companies that rated their leaders “very effective” are much more likely to have these things in place. You can download the complete report here.

Armed with this knowledge you have the opportunity to show your clients how you can help them improve their leadership programs and, by doing so, improve their ability to attract talent and positively impact company performance through:

·         leadership development

·         team effectiveness sessions

·         succession planning

·         leadership strategy sessions

We help many executive search firms do just that using the insights from our assessments. We can show you how to use assessments like McQuaig to offer tremendous value to your clients, utilizing this proven three-step process:

1.       Create targeted behavioral profiles of the type of leader to succeed in their companies, now and in the future

2.       Identify those traits in current staff and candidates

3.       Develop customized development plans

Assessments like ours are easy to implement and surprisingly inexpensive. If you want to learn more about how we can help you get a bigger piece of the leadership development pie, you can visit our website or contact me directly:

Ian Cameron
1.800.387.5455, ext. 3654