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The Leadership Gap

 
8/1/2005

As many managers would agree, a firm’s ability to develop and retain leaders provides a unique competitive advantage. Yet many companies focus their energy for leadership recruitment and training on executives already at the top of the org chart. According to the authors, it is valuable to spend more time and energy on the development of potential leaders, and this book gives guidance to take a step in that direction.

The leadership gap referred to in the title means an organization’s shortfall between the leadership skills it has in house and those it needs to gain competitive advantage. As the authors point out, many books for managers focus on one of two areas: the personal qualities of individual leaders or leadership as it is rooted in an organization. This practical book balances and attempts to integrate both perspectives of self-development and organizational infrastructure.

This balanced view makes it a good all-purpose guide for boards, executives, recruiters, and fledgling managers who want to improve and foster the improvement of leadership skills in many areas of organizational life, such as development of business strategy, company culture and values, teamwork, customer loyalty, and so on.

The main hurdle in leadership development is at the organization level, the authors have found. “Some organizations do not even have a strategy [for leadership development]. Other organizations have a series of practices (such as leadership development programs, key talent management processes, or succession planning) that exist in isolation from one another.” The solution they outline in detail makes sense. Embed leadership in the organization; focus on critical positions and key talent; integrate leadership development broadly; and require accountability for leadership capacity.

Weiss is a vice president and Molinaro is a principal at Knightsbridge Human Capital Management in Canada.