The search for talent is one of the great challenges facing organisations and, as globalisation increases competition, strong leadership becomes even more important for businesses in the future.

Central to success or failure will be the people who lead these companies; those who are currently in senior roles and those who are being primed for future leadership positions.

With this in mind the Institute of Leadership & Management set out to explore what employers want their company’s future leaders to look like. We surveyed 50 HR professionals from commercial organisations, the majority employing over 1,000 people. We asked them what skills they need to possess, the personal characteristics essential for success and how they develop these qualities in the people they view as leaders.

The terms ‘whole package’ and ‘natural leader’ were raised repeatedly in our discussions with HR professionals. On the surface, this is perhaps unsurprising, but when deconstructed a clear picture emerged. They want their future leaders to possess the right personal characteristics over and above all other factors. Certain skills, knowledge and experience are essential, but individuals with the ability to inspire and motivate, and those with high levels of self awareness are particularly highly valued.

The catch is most leaders aren’t born, they are made. Professional experience, investment in education and development, as well as a level of self confidence established through previous successes and failures, all contribute to the chemistry of what a good leader looks like.

ILM believes the traditional model for what constitutes a good leader is changing and, therefore, how we develop our leaders must change. UK plc needs bright, emotionally intelligent, skilled future leaders to ensure we continue to compete globally. Good leaders are able to transform their business and the people who follow them. ILM both supports and develops those leaders so they and their organisation can be the best they can be.

Penny de Valk, Chief Executive
Institute of Leadership & Management

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