Development of leaders to deliver change is vital - Business Works
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Development of leaders to deliver change is vital

Mike Brooks, Director, Henley Business School Henley Business School’s Corporate Learning Priorities Survey 2013 has revealed that, as the economy starts to show signs of life, organisations are shifting their development focus from ensuring stability, to equipping senior leaders who can deliver business growth and take advantage of new ways of working. Mike Brooks, Director at Henley Business School discusses some of the results.

294 UK and international organisations took part in our 2013 annual survey, which looks at the latest priorities and challenges driving the leadership and learning and development (L&D) agenda. 78% were from the UK and just over 70% in a Director or Head of Department role.

Interestingly, the survey reveals that having previously invested in strengthening the ‘middle', increasing importance is now being placed on investment in executive and management development.

priorities ... ‘equipping leaders to deliver change’ and ‘aiding succession planning'

89% said that ‘senior leaders’ are the group most likely to be included in corporate learning and executive education plans, indicating that organisations are increasingly focused on developing leadership teams who can deliver strategy in a fast-evolving and complex business environment. In particular, two priority areas have grown significantly in importance since 2012 ‘equipping leaders to deliver change’ (79%) and ‘aiding succession planning' (71%).

‘Developing capabilities in customer engagement’ and ‘social media’ are also high on the agenda for over 80% of respondents, while for over 65%, the ‘digital economy and new ways of doing business’ is considered an organisational priority. Responses indicate that the digital economy is no longer something companies can ignore, particularly in light of the recent failure of big name brands, due to the impact of new ways of working on traditional business models. There is a need to align staff and skills to maintain pace and develop new ways of doing business.

‘employee engagement’ ranks ahead of ‘talent retention’

For the first time ever, ‘employee engagement’ ranks ahead of ‘talent retention’ as a key priority for people and talent management objectives, with 87% of respondents citing this as a top priority compared with 83% for ‘retaining talent in the business’. However respondents, particularly those from smaller businesses with a turnover of less than £50m, still consider talent retention to be crucial.

Encouragingly, the 2013 survey shows an increasing belief in the importance of L&D, with 78% of participants saying that budgets will remain constant or increase. 65% will continue to use external L&D providers while 75% see the value of ‘off the shelf’ approaches to meet their needs.

More than ever, shorter and sharper programmes, run by experienced practitioners, which address topical challenges, are important. Clients also expressed that they are looking for practical, real-world based learning that delivers results.

Coaching, combined with internal mentoring, also continues to be seen as important for creating meaningful and sustainable business improvements within the organisation.

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