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Study Notes ?Career-Killing Behavior? For Would-Be Chief Executives

April 30, 2002

Inman News Features

Corporations are investing more time and money in leadership development due to concerns that the future supply of top executive talent may prove inadequate for their needs, according to a new Conference Board study.

"Hyper competition, fast-changing technology and closer scrutiny from corporate boards are putting increasing pressure on companies to develop effective leaders for the future," said study co-author Ann Barrett. "But while some firms are taking action, less than half of those surveyed said developing future leaders is a major priority for their top management."

The study, sponsored by Pittsburgh-based human resources consultancy Development Dimensions International, was based on a survey of more than 150 U.S. companies and interviews with representatives of major companies and human resources experts.

William C. Byham, CEO of Development Dimension and author of a new book, Grow Your Own Leaders, warned that exceptional leadership talent will become scarcer over the next decade.

"CEOs must make the commitment to personally devote the time and resources to ensure they are identifying and developing their future leaders," he said.

The study found changing and uncertain business conditions and employee demographics will compel future leaders to develop more sophisticated skills to deal with rapid change and the expectations of younger employees. Top executives will have to become master strategists, leaders of persistent change, relationship builders and talent developers, according to the researchers.

One study author said top executive positions may become so demanding that people in today?s shrinking executive gene pool might not be prepared or even willing to advance into those jobs at large global companies.

The study also pinpointed career-killing behaviors for would-be executives of the future. Among the key defects: a hesitancy to take risks, personal arrogance and insensitivity to colleagues and customers, an excessively controlling leadership style and a reluctance to deal with tough business and people issues.

Copyright: Inman News Service

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