Critical Thinking a Top Skill for Future Leaders: New Survey Finds Organizations Are Doubtful about the Readiness and Competence of the Next Generation of Leaders

By Brotherton, Phaedra | Talent Development, November 2011 | Go to article overview

Critical Thinking a Top Skill for Future Leaders: New Survey Finds Organizations Are Doubtful about the Readiness and Competence of the Next Generation of Leaders


Brotherton, Phaedra, Talent Development


With the continuous economic upheaval, the speed of technological change, and the ongoing need to deal with uncertainty and complexity, critical thinking skills have risen to the top of the list of competencies needed to lead organizations effectively into the future. And many organizations have little confidence that the next generation of leaders will be ready or even have the skills to lead, according to the 2011/2012 Trends in Executive Development: A Benchmark Report published by Pearson TalentLens and Executive Development Associates Inc. (EDA), which creates custom-designed executive development programs.

"The leaders at the helm of today's corporations--most of whom are Baby Boomers--are telling us that they believe the next generation of leaders are not prepared to move into the executive suite and face the challenges of effectively making critical decisions, solving complex problems, and thinking creatively and strategically," says Judy Chartrand, consultant chief scientist at Pearson TalentLens, which designs performance assessments.

Leaders from 81 large national and multinational corporations participated in the survey, which has been conducted by EDA every two years since 1983 to follow the trends, growth, and evolution of executive development in corporate environments.

Survey respondents were asked to name the top three conditions that will influence executive development efforts during the next two to three years. Topping the list was lack of bench strength at 55.7 percent, signaling a need for clear succession planning in light of changing demographics. The next two conditions to most affect executive development are the need for more collaboration across the organization (31.5 percent) and the readiness of the "next generation" of employees (24.1 percent), who are viewed as having different needs, interests, and values.

"We have a few theories about why these up-and-comers are not ready," note the researchers. "It could be that the Baby Boomers are hoarding the 'suite' seats. It could be that the next generation leaders are Gen Xers, and they are behaving too independently to adequately prepare. …

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