Almost one third of companies would replace their C-suite execs if given the opportunity, according to the latest report among 23,000 senior leaders from member-based advisory firm CEB. Boards currently do not have confidence that incumbent leaders are competent to deal with new working practices.

On top of the traditional skills of organising and directing employees and driving change where needed, today’s leaders require the ability to build strong networks within their businesses, based on autonomy, empowerment and collaboration. CEB’s research also reveals that only 7% of today’s leaders have all the skills required to be successful in a demanding work environment.

On top of that, almost three quarters (74%) of leaders admit that the number of stakeholders they interact with on a regular basis – both internal and external – has significantly increased, yet at the same time 70% do not feel equipped to create and lead these networks effectively.

CEB’s study suggests that the skills-base of senior leaders has been slow to catch up with the increasingly connected way that companies are working today. As a result, companies around the world are facing a serious shortage of leadership talent as directors find that their skill-set and working approach are no longer relevant.

To ensure they maintain their pipelines of future management talent, companies must re-assess the skills they look for and develop in their leaders. Today’s work environment means traditional skills need to be supplemented by the ability to influence wide networks, while those who rely on top-down control are unlikely to be the ones to drive high-performance.

 Comments from Conrad Schmidt, Global Research Officer at CEB: “In today’s work environment – as economics change, organization’s transform and situations inside these organizations become more unstable – the idea of deciding on a path, and developing and executing on a strategy, is going to be a lot more variable then it’s been in the past. Organizational performance is going to depend upon having effective network leadership. Work is done differently now. If you’re going to achieve higher growth, maintain your company’s edge and differentiate yourself from the competition, your leaders are going to have to be driving the organization onto a whole new playing field.”

“You can be really good at executing traditional paths and traditional operating models inside your company. You can be really good at laying out a new direction, a new foundation, but we know the key to getting stuff done, to getting your company to a whole new level of performance, is going to be about your ability to network. Your ability to bring in information, collaborate across the company and accomplish objectives in a high-change environment. Moving forward, network leadership is going to be a leading driver to staying competitive in today’s work environment.”