Currently it appears companies are dumping more training and development dollars in the current strength areas of many leaders. Their strengths may become stronger but those competencies are becoming less important than other required skills. More significantly, companies are ignoring or under-investing in competencies essential for effective leadership within the next 5 years. The key gap areas are leading people, strategic planning, inspiring commitment, managing change, employee development, balancing personal life and work, and decisiveness.

Those comments are based on a report from the Center for Creative Leadership. In other words, CCL feels companies are over-investing in skills for building and mending relationships, compassion and sensitivity, culturally adaptation, respecting individual differences, composure, and self-awareness and under-investing in more critical areas.  The data shows that many leaders’ strengths are not in areas that are most important for success today and in the future.

Before anyone gets their panties in a bunch, the report did not say these skills were unimportant.  Leaders now and in the future will need to focus on different skill areas as well as maintain or improve and develop skills in more traditional competencies. 

CCL broke down the core leadership strengths and importance of each into 4 categories:

On-track: Competencies that are strengths and important.

Over-investments: Competencies that are strengths but not considered important.

Reserves: Competencies that are not strengths and not considered important.

Key Gaps: Competencies that are not strengths but are important.

The study identified only four areas considered to be “on-track,” with the current level of strength matching the level of importance: being a quick learner, resourcefulness, participative management, and doing whatever it takes.

Even if nothing were to change in the future, today’s leaders are not as skilled as they should be to effectively manage current challenges. In the absence of new investments in developing critical skills and perspectives, the leadership gap in organizations will continue to widen. Some organizations will heed the call and be poised to recruit and develop high-caliber leaders whose strengths match organizational needs, rather than the skill sets needed five or ten years ago.

Comparison of the Leadership Strength: Current Skill versus Needed Skill


Current Skill Level

Current Skill Needed


28% – Doing whatever it takes

60% – Inspiring commitment


30% – Respecting individual differences

59% – Strategic planning


23% – Culturally adaptable

58% – Leading people


22% – Being a quick learner

58% – Resourcefulness


22% – Resourcefulness

55% – Employee development


23% – Composure

55% – Managing change


23% – Compassion and sensitivity

53% – Participative management


17% – Building and mending relationships

54% – Composure


15% – Self-awareness

54% – Doing whatever it takes


16% – Participative management

51% – Building and mending relationships

Source: Center for Creative Leadership, The Leadership Gap