The Long Era of Lackluster Leadership

By Mark Vickers

The single greatest business failure of the last 20 years is the inability of organizations to excel at leadership development. Consider this: in 2010, three quarters of respondents to an i4cp study said developing leaders is a highly important issue, but less than a quarter said their company is highly effective in this area. This wildly disproportionate ratio makes leadership development the most critical human-capital issue of the year.

That finding wouldn't be so important if it weren't part of a long-term trend. i4cp has been tracking major issues for over two decades and has found that leadership is consistently at or near the top of any such rankings. It's always a priority. Nonetheless, most companies still, taken as a whole, are mediocre or worse in this area. If progress in this area were anything like progress in, say, transistor innovation, there'd be nothing like Moore's Law. We'd still be stuck with computers the size of washing machines.

There are many reasons for lack of progress, of course, from a constantly evolving business environment that requires a shifting set of leadership skills to the obvious truth that leaders just can't be engineered and mass produced like new computer chips.

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