Leadership - Who goes there?

“Mummy Pirate, you go there, and hide some treasure for me to find…..” and so starts another morning in our household with a two year (wannabe pirate) who I’m convinced will one day be in management or his own boss.

Leadership at least to my two year old seems to come naturally. However, according to a recent survey  just 9% of UK workers aspire to be managers.’ – What happens?

A skills gap?

We often talk about talent management. How the best managers are those that can help their employees develop skills that will help them progress in their careers.

The individual qualities that staff admire and respect in a manager can differ but things that are consistently found in surveys are: the ability to provide guidance and leadership, take difficult decisions and those who let you develop and give you opportunities to develop important soft or transferable skills; skills which are often reported as being under threat. John Goodwin, Chief Executive Officer, The LEGO Foundation writes here about how the current curriculum is ignoring creativity, problem solving and critical thinking skills leading towards a huge skills gap or crisis for the future.

Vanishing managers / Different skill sets

According to the research carried out by the Boston Consulting Group, fewer young people want a career in management. Whether that is down to more pressure and accountability being put onto managers, less training preparing employees for that next step or levels of management slowly disappearing as many companies move towards a flatter structure.

Either way, should we be concerned? Well it depends on who the survey captured. As Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder, points out many young people may not yet be thinking about a move into leadership, and many may be perfectly happy with their career where it currently is. Every organisation needs a mix of employees with different skills sets. One key takeaway is that some of the best leaders are those who remember the importance of learning and developing, and help employees to see where their strengths are and how/fit they fit into their companies culture. As Richard Branson commented:

“Company knowledge and job-specific skills can be learned, but you can’t train a personality”. So, therefore, if you want an employee who will work well with your company, hire based on personality – the rest can be learned.”

With that in mind, it’s an afternoon of Lego for me and my two year pirate. Who knows whether leadership will be a skill he wants to embrace in 20 years or more time…but for now we’ll build it into playtime (alongside a big cup of coffee for me)!


Image credit: Dan Matutina.