Major Study Reveals Next Generation of Corporate Leaders Lacks Critical Thinking Skills to Successfully Take the Helm

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Biennial Survey of Top Corporations Reveals Grave Need for Succession Planning, Executive Development

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As today’s corporations grapple with everything from a volatile global economy to technology evolving at warp speed, the biggest challenge they face may be a mass exodus from the executive suite. According to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of the Census, Baby Boomers are retiring at a rate of one every eight seconds and top companies have as many as 60 percent of their workforce eligible for retirement in the next three years.

Findings from a study of top corporations released today reveal that current corporate leaders don’t believe the next generation of executives has the critical and strategic thinking skills requisite to navigate these volatile times and the unchartered future.

The “2011/2012 Trends in Executive Development: A Benchmark Report” is the product of collaboration between Pearson TalentLens and Executive Development Associates Inc. (EDA). Leaders from a record number of 81 large national and multinational corporations with substantial business operations in the United States participated in the biennial survey, 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

“The leaders at the helm of today’s corporations – most of whom are Baby Boomers – are telling us that they believe the next generation of leaders are not prepared to move into the executive suite and face the challenges of effectively making critical decisions, solving complex problems and thinking creatively and strategically,” said Dr. Judy Chartrand, Consultant Chief Scientist at Pearson TalentLens. “Significant investments in the identification and development of the next generation of corporate leaders will play a crucial role in the success and, perhaps survival, of these large national and multinational corporations. Bonnie Hagemann and John Mattone’s research report couldn’t come at a better time.”

As in the 2009 study, this year’s survey respondents continued to cite the importance of building their “bench strength” for leadership succession. However, this year’s research revealed a troubling disconnect between the belief that succession planning and development are critical and actual corporate initiatives to support those needs.

In a similar vein, this year’s respondents admitted that their organizations need to use more objective assessments to evaluate employee performance and potential, but then reported that they were continuing to use subjective measures that often have very little to do with predicting likely future performance in more challenging and difficult roles.

Interestingly, companies’ struggles with today’s economic crisis and global upheaval were apparent during the survey process. A representative from one company that has typically participated in the research reported that because of economic changes and financial constraints, they had nothing to contribute. Another leader from a Global 1000 company said that because of cutbacks, the human resources team is much smaller than two years ago and expected to do twice the work with fewer resources, and therefore couldn’t even spare the 30 minutes to complete the survey.

For more information about Pearson TalentLens, visit, become a fan on Facebook at or follow on Twitter at

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

About Pearson
Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, has global reach and market-leading businesses in education, business information and consumer publishing (NYSE: PSO). For more information about the Assessment & Information group of Pearson, visit

For more information:
Adam Gaber, Pearson
800-745-8489 / / @apgaber (twitter)


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