Australasia frontrunners in developing leadership

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Australasian companies are exceeding the majority of their global counterparts in developing future leaders according to a new study by global advisory firm Hay Group. But if they want to measure up to the world's best there is still some work to do.

The Hay Group’s Best Companies for Leadership study Australasian companies were significantly stronger in programs related to employee retention – such as allowing working from home ( 49% of local companies compared to the 30% global average) and the opportunities for gender balance in senior positions (52% local, 41% global). However they were notably weaker in operational focused resources, such as cross-organisational collaboration and tolerating employee mistakes.

"Locally, ANZ companies demonstrate a more egalitarian approach, favouring programs that benefit the broader workforce, whereas globally, more emphasis was placed on programs that supported high-performing employees and developing future leaders," Wendy Montague, Head of Leadership and Talent Practice, Hay Group Pacific, explained.

"Overall Australasian companies were rated well against the average companies however many still have some work to do if they’re to match the world’s top companies for leadership development. These best-in-class organisations are providing non-traditional, more diverse, career paths and training high-potential employees to meet specific business challenges and develop the skills required to help their organisations succeed in today's increasingly volatile, global environment."

The study found 80% of those in the Top 20 companies - of which Procter & Gamble came first followed by General Electric, Coca-Cola and IBM - had established clear career paths for their employees, compared to only 62% of ANZ companies and just 48% of businesses worldwide.

The Top 20 were also ahead of their peer groups with 72% offering new executives leadership development compared to just 30% of the time at ANZ businesses, while 83% of new managers at leading companies were also offered developmental support compared to 55% of Australasian companies.

“Leading companies tend to look decades ahead when developing leaders, while local companies tend to place most emphasis on those employees that are just about to ascend to very senior roles,”Montague said. “For example, more than 36% of leading global companies said they had future leadership programs for even their youngest employees, while just 10% of Australasian businesses had similar programs in place.”

The study also uncovered a difference in the leadership qualities sought by Australasian businesses compared to the top global companies.

Technical expertise and planning are among the top five desired leadership skills by local businesses, however the top 20global companies didn't view them as essential.
In Australia and New Zealand the top five nominated values in leaders:
  • customer focus (41%)
  • technical competence (40%)
  • executional focus (40%)
  • planning and organisation (29%)
  • decision making abilities (29%)
And here are the top five values in leaders for the top 20 global companies:
  • Managing complexity (28%)
  • Teamwork (28%)
  • Decision making (34%)
  • Focusing on customers and other external stakeholders (42%)
  • Focus on execution (49%)
 

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