Building a diverse cadre of future leaders and project managers who are equipped to steer organisations through evolving business landscapes, and inspire a multi-generational workforce has never been more important or more challenging. How can employers and recruiters identify, and nurture this new generation of leaders and managers? This is the core theme at the heart of ‘Leadership 2025’ - the REC’s latest Future of Jobs White Paper in association with the Association for Project Management (APM).
The feedback from employers, recruiters, executive search professionals, academics, think tanks, policymakers and individual workers, helped us to the crystalize the following four key messages:
- We are entering a new age of leadership and management - Future leaders will need a varied and people-focused skills-set in order to meet intensifying workforce challenges head on. The types of roles and skills that leaders need to bring in are evolving at pace – for example, 40 per cent of employers predict an increase in the need for specialist project managers, according to a recent APM / PWC report. The need to embed employee wellbeing within corporate culture and nurture a more diverse and multi-generational workforce are further priorities. The 4th industrial revolution is creating its own leadership and management revolution. Seventy three per cent of leaders expect their business to face significant disruption and a volatile external environment is also changing the game for business leaders. Brexit has created a major challenge for business leaders with REC members identifying the top Brexit-related priorities as preparing for different scenarios, reassuring EU workers, keeping up to speed with political developments and spreading the risk to the business (for example by looking at overseas markets).
- Building a cadre of future leaders and managers is a business imperative - Employers are starting to innovate in their management development programmes; the focus is on new ways of boosting progression and nurturing management capability. We can learn from what is working. Promoting peer to peer exchanges is at the heart of Be the Business – the government-backed initiative aimed at boosting UK productivity – and is also a core aim of the REC Good Recruitment Campaign. The UK’s remains a country of ‘accidental managers’, but changes are afoot with 75 per cent of employers planning to invest in future leadership and management capacity. The stakes are high, future leaders must drive UK productivity as well as workplace cohesion.
- We need a genuine step-change on inclusive leadership - Employers and executive recruiters can shift the dial now on boosting diversity in senior roles. Professional networks in key sectors are starting to make a difference; the White Paper showcases a number of high-profile initiatives such as Women in Games and BAME 2020 that are being led by recruitment businesses. Reviewing current hiring procedures and driving good recruitment practice at all levels will help to build a dynamic and diverse leadership pipeline. Facilitating this review process is at the heart of the REC Good Recruitment Campaign.
- Making change happen requires collective action - Building an effective business support ecosystem is a priority and government must build initiatives such as Be the Business as well as facilitate career transitions and ensure that education policy is building the next generation of leaders and managers. The White Paper identifies specific opportunities for the UK’s £35.7 billion recruitment sector to play a leading role in building a future leadership and management cadre that boosts UK productivity as well as good work and employee wellbeing. Over 80 per cent of employers cite the provision of ‘expertise’ as the determining factor when choosing a recruitment or executive search partner to work with. Helping clients to identify and meet future leadership needs is an example of this.
We are seeing the biggest shift in leadership and management needs for a generation. Addressing this is not only key to UK productivity, growth and job creation – it is also key to changing business culture in a way that drives good work, inclusion and employee wellbeing. This is the core message from ‘Leadership 2025’ and we will be using our latest thought-leadership white paper to position our industry’s voice at the forefront of the future of jobs debate.
1. APM. (2019) The golden thread: a study of the contribution of project management to the UK economy.
2. CMI. (2017) Leadership for change: CMI’s management manifesto
3. AESC. (2019) Executive talent outlook 2019.