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Women feel less supported by their organisations to develop leadership skills

Doug Baird | 07 January 2022

  • Eight in ten professionals believe their organisation is experiencing a leadership skills shortage, but employees disagree on who should address the problem
  • 55% of men feel the responsibility primarily lies with them for updating their own leadership skills, but only 46% of women agree
  • 79% of women don’t feel their organisation provides leaders with time and resources to develop their own leadership skills
  • Instead, women are looking to HR teams for support in developing these skills with 36% of females agreeing it is HR’s responsibility compared to 23% of men.

Workforces are divided on who should take ownership for developing their own leadership skills, according to new research from leadership consulting & talent solutions provider New Street Consulting Group (NSCG).

The survey of 1,000 senior level professionals found that 55% of men surveyed feel it is their own responsibility to update their leadership skills compared to only 46% of women. More than a third (36%) of women look towards HR for developing their leadership skills compared to only 23% of men.

The top three ways organisations are addressing leadership skills were cited as working with educational institutions or the government to support the pipeline of future talent and providing company-specific development programmes. However, 79% of women don’t feel their organisation provides leaders with time and resources to develop their own leadership skills compared to two thirds of men.

Doug Baird, CEO at NSCG, said: “The overwhelming outcome from our research was that we are facing a significant leadership skills shortage. But there’s not the same consensus when it comes down to who is able to close this gap.

“It’s concerning that women have identified they feel less supported by their organisations than men in developing their own leadership skills as this will inevitably leave talented people behind and heighten the overall leadership skills gap.”

Our research showed females are more likely than males to say they spend “a small amount of time” on networking (37% compared to 27%).  The top three barriers to developing leadership skills highlighted in our study were lack of time (55%), lack of budget (37%) and being unsure where to start (35%).

Doug concluded: “Given the relentless pace of change in the world of work, to successfully tackle the leadership skills shortage, we need a joined-up approach, drawing on the experience and deep expertise of all stakeholders.  

“HR teams need to be empowered to drive the strategy to develop leaders, so the solution to closing the leadership gap is truly inclusive and works for the long-term.”

About the research: A survey was completed by OnePoll on behalf of NSCG in October 2021. This sampled 1,000 senior level (Director and above) professionals working in the UK.