ASTD Research: Improvement Needed in the Development of Emerging Leaders

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The report, "Frontline Leaders: Developing Tomorrow's Executives," examines the training aimed at new people managers.

Frontline Leader: Developing Tomorrow's Executives - Infographic

Developing emerging leaders is critically important to businesses.

Organizations need to improve their efforts in developing emerging leaders according to new research from ASTD, the American Society for Training & Development. "Frontline Leaders: Developing Tomorrow’s Executives" examines current training and development practices aimed at “frontline leaders”—those employees who lead or “supervise” the people who are getting the job done and are at the entry point to a management career. The research is based on a survey of 513 respondents in management roles representing companies of various sizes, sectors, and organizational cultures.

The report states, “Unlike some roles where there may be an interim period of time to transition, going from an individual contributor to a frontline leader (FLL) can literally happen overnight.” Data indicate that FLLs have an impact on employee engagement, performance, retention, and the ability to transfer skills from the classroom on the job. In other words, developing emerging leaders is critically important to businesses. Yet, the research shows organizations can do a much better job of developing these employees.

Key findings from "Frontline Leaders: Developing Tomorrow’s Executives" include:

  • The majority of organizations surveyed do not conduct organization-wide talent assessments and may not have current data on internal talent available, the needs of employees, or the readiness to move between roles.
  • Only 38 percent have formal development processes for frontline leaders.
  • Peer coaching and mentoring, self-directed learning, and just-in-time training are the most commonly reported development methods. However self-directed learning is not considered an effective development strategy for emerging leaders.
  • Management involvement in the training process and planning is severely lacking.

The report also offers recommendations that include:

  • Create an integrated talent management plan.
  • Involve senior managers in talent management strategy.
  • Have an overarching leadership development model.
  • Dedicate resources for employees entering the leadership pipeline, and don’t wait to train.

To order a copy of Frontline Leaders: Developing Tomorrow’s Executives, visit

About ASTD

ASTD (American Society for Training & Development) is the world’s largest professional association dedicated to the training and development field. In more than 100 countries, ASTD’s members work in organizations of all sizes, in the private and public sectors, as independent consultants, and as suppliers. Members connect locally in more than 120 U.S. chapters and with 15 international partners. ASTD started in 1943 and in recent years has widened the profession’s focus to align learning and performance to organizational results, and is a sought-after voice on critical public policy issues. For more information, visit

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Kristen Fyfe-Mills
American Society for Training and Development
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