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Find the Leader: How Companies Can Close the Imminent Leadership Gap

carrell the officeToday's guest post is from our board member, Dan Schawbel.  Dan is the Founder of, a research and insights membership service for forward-thinking HR professionals, and the New York Times bestselling author of Promote Yourself and Me 2.0.  Below, Dan explores a trend on the minds of lots of HR pros: How are companies going to fill their leadership gap when baby boomers retire? They know that they can't succeed without effective leaders.  But what if the talent they need isn't inspired to lead?

In the next five years, twenty million baby boomers are expected to retire, which is the equivalent of ten thousand each day. With so many boomers retiring, companies are going to have to try to fill their executive leadership positions with both internal and external candidates. The problem is that employees aren't aspiring to these high level positions as they once were and more employees are changing jobs than ever before. In a recent study by, we found that one-third of global companies are struggling to find senior leaders and only 12 percent of employees aspire to attain C-suite positions.

After speaking with more than 100 HR executives this year, I've found that workforce planning is the hottest topic. There are a few reasons why this topic has become so important to HR professionals. First, there is a war for talent once again, as job openings have risen to 5.4 million and unemployment has decreased to 5.5 percent. Second, employees are constantly shuffling and organizations have to respond to hiring the right people, even under pressure to fill gaps. Third, in our current economy, there are many more mergers and acquisitions that are shaking up careers, teams, and entire organizations at haste.

In order to cope with the leadership gap, organizations have to make some adjustments to how they hire, train and develop their employees. First and foremost, our previous research has shown that companies are starting to hire more for cultural fit over soft skills. They want to know if a candidate fits in the corporate culture because if they do, they will stay longer.

Second, in this study we found that organizations are still set on giving annual performance reviews, while employees want regular (and sometimes immediate) feedback. We are living in an instant gratification world right now and workers, especially millennials, want to know where they stand every hour of the day.

Third, companies are still using printed manuals to train their employees, whereas employees want to learn virtually over the Internet.

How are you identifying, retaining, and growing your high potential leaders to fill this gap?  What are you doing to get your top talent excited about taking on more responsibility?

Related Posts:

What Happens When the Boomers Are Gone and the Millennials Are In Charge?

Leading with 20/20 Vision

Corporate Culture is Out, Corporate Community is In


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