Corporate America is on an inevitable path to a critical shortage of workers. Against a backdrop of rising employment, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts almost static growth in the 16- to 24-year-old age group—projected to be up a slight 0.4 percent by decade's end. If this doesn't keep you awake at night, the prediction for the next age group—the 25- to 39-year-olds—might. This group, largely known as the breeding ground for future managers and leaders, will trail employment growth by more than 5 percent by 2008, according to the most recent bls pronouncement, leaving as many as one in four middle- and senior-management positions empty.
Whichever way you look at it, corporations cannot shop for talent in quite the way they have done in the past (see related article, "The Leadership Gap," Training, March). It's a strategy that leaves too much to chance. The looming employment shortfall calls for a safer, more predictable route to fostering and growing leaders, and a leadership development process that can successfully target the right people and develop their capability to steer the organization to prosperity.
Demographic predictions aside, the current economic slowdown is now presenting leadership challenges as well. "Training has long been an essential element in business, and it is even more important today with recent layoffs and a slowing economy," explains Edward T. Reilly, president and ceo of the American Management Association (ama), New York. Companies are moving faster, decision making has been pushed down in organizations and younger employees and those with technical backgrounds are assuming management roles."
So just who are our future leaders, and how do the demographics shape up? What methods are deployed to prepare them for the role? How much are organizations investing in their development? And how successful are the current processes at turning out people with the right skills and traits?
These are the questions that Training magazine and the American Management Association set out to answer in an exclusive survey of leadership development practice. This article represents part one in a two-part series that will highlight the results from the extensive survey—specifically, the demographics of, or people involved in, leadership development and the methods used. In our September issue, we will publish part two, presenting our findings on leadership investment and revealing how organizations evaluate and measure leadership development success.