Wanted: Visionary Leaders - Must Have Strategic Thinking Skills

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Survey of U.S. Organizations Puts Leadership Development at Top of List for Coping With Tumultuous Times

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The results of this research combined with the current demographic shift in the workplace should be a wake-up call for any organization that is not focused on developing tomorrow's leaders.

U.S. corporations have put out a "help wanted" sign looking for a next generation of leaders who are visionaries with strong strategic thinking skills. Yet, findings of a 2009 survey of the country's top organizations, conducted by Pearson and Executive Development Associates, Inc. (EDA), reveal that corporate leaders believe the next generation of talent headed for the executive suite needs help to develop the skills necessary to lead today's organizations successfully.

Today at "The Best Practices in Leadership Development Summit," Dr. Judy Chartrand, Chief Scientist at Pearson Talent Assessment, the education and technology company's employee assessment business, unveiled the results of the "2009/2010 Trends in Executive Development" study. Leaders from more than 70 of the country's largest private, non-profit and government organizations, spanning all industries, participated in the study, which has been conducted by EDA every two years since 1983 to follow the trends, growth and evolution of executive development in corporate environments. The complete report can be purchased at http://www.LeadershipDevelopmentTrends.com.

According to the study, today's organizations want their next generation of leaders to be strategic thinkers who inspire others to excel. Organizations are also more focused than ever before on the need to accelerate the development of future leaders - "high potentials" - according to the research. In fact, 70 percent of the participating organizations stated that they have a formal leadership development program or process in place, and 40 percent said that they view that program as an area of excellence in their organization.

However, when study participants reflected on the pool of available talent for the executive suite in the next several years, they did not see the leadership skills that organizations need for 21st century success. Of concern was that fact that study participants expressed their belief that the next generation of leaders - those who will assume executive level positions in the next three to five years - lack the strategic thinking and change management skills needed to lead in today's tumultuous business environment. In addition, today's corporate leaders said that they don't think the up-and-coming group of leaders has mastered the ability to create a vision for an organization, nor do they have the skills to inspire others to realize a vision. Study participants also said that today's high potentials for leadership lack a strategic understanding of the total enterprise of an organization and how its parts work together.

"Collectively, these gaps in the skill set of the next generation of leaders are sobering. Arguably, there will be more empty executive seats to fill in the next five to 10 years than ever before in history - and this group will be thrust into those very high-level, influential positions. If they aren't ready, the negative impact could ripple through our economy," said Dr. Chartrand.
She continued, "Our research shows that companies and organizations that are focused on success in the next decade believe that they must invest in developing their leadership capacity so that they can navigate any crisis or opportunity that arises."

This year's study also showed that the current economic downturn has had a significant impact on leadership development in organizations. For the first time in the more than two decades since the study was launched, "economic conditions" were rated as the most highly influential factor impacting executive development over the next two to three years. In addition, organizations said that there is more pressure now than ever before to develop leaders who can help negotiate unstable conditions and develop strategies for survival, no matter what circumstances are presented.

EDA CEO Bonnie Hagemann said, "The results of this research combined with the current demographic shift in the workplace should be a wake-up call for any organization that is not focused on developing tomorrow's leaders."

Pearson Talent Assessment publishes scientific assessments that are used globally to hire and develop the 21st century workforce. Its instruments measure critical thinking, problem-solving and a range of job skills to deliver data-driven insights that inform and clarify an organization's human capital decisions. To learn more, visit http://www.TalentLens.com.

About Executive Development Associates (EDA)
Executive Development Associates is a leader in creating custom-designed executive development strategies, systems and programs that help organizations build the capabilities needed to achieve their strategic objectives. EDA leads the way in the use of executive development to help organizations successfully address their marketplace challenges and accelerate the execution of their business strategy. With their proven ability to achieve results, they create measurable improvements in both individual executive performance and business outcomes. For more information about executive, leadership and high-potential development, visit http://www.executivedevelopment.com.

About Pearson
Pearson (NYSE:PSO), the global leader in education and education technology, provides innovative print and digital education materials for preK through college, student information systems and learning management systems, teacher professional development, career certification programs, and testing and assessment products that set the standard for the industry. Pearson's other primary businesses include the Financial Times Group and the Penguin Group. For more information about the Assessment and Information group of Pearson, visit http://www.pearsonassessments.com.

For more information, press only:
Adam Gaber, Pearson, 212-641-6118, adam (dot) gaber (at) pearson (dot) com
Lisa Wolfe, L. Wolfe Communications, 773-227-1049, lwolfe (at) lwolfe (dot) com


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