Workforces are divided on who should take ownership for developing their leadership skills. 

Research from talent advisory firm New Street Consulting Group (NSCG) found that 55 percent of men feel it is their own responsibility to update their leadership skills compared to only 46 percent of women.

More than a third (36%) of women look towards HR for developing their leadership skills, compared to only 23 percent of men.   

The top three ways organisations are addressing leadership skills were cited as working with educational institutions or the government to support the pipeline of future talent and providing company-specific development programmes. 

However, 79 percent of women don’t feel their organisation provides leaders with time and resources to develop their own leadership skills compared to two thirds of men.  

CEO at NSCG, Doug Baird said it was concerning that women feel less supported by their organisations. He said this would inevitably mean men would be more likely to succeed, as they believed in developing their own leadership skills, while women were reticent and needed support from HR. 

He said: “The overwhelming outcome from our research is that we are facing a significant leadership skills shortage. But there’s not the same consensus when it comes down to who is able to close this gap.”  

These sentiments were echoed in an HRreview podcast by CEO of Punter Southall Aspire, Steve Butler, who said to improve diversity, leaders and HR needed to garner information from talented individuals to find out why they had not put themselves forward for leadership roles, find out what barriers existed and decide how to remove those barriers.

The research showed women are more likely than men to say they spend “a small amount of time” on networking (37% compared to 27%).  The top three barriers to developing leadership skills highlighted in the study were lack of time (55%), lack of budget (37%) and being unsure where to start (35%).  

“It’s concerning that women have identified they feel less supported by their organisations than men in developing their own leadership skills as this will inevitably leave talented people behind and heighten the overall leadership skills gap.”  

Mr Baird added: “Given the relentless pace of change in the world of work, to successfully tackle the leadership skills shortage, we need a joined-up approach, drawing on the experience and deep expertise of all stakeholders.   

He called on HR teams to feel empowered and drive the strategy to develop leaders. This, he said, is how the skills gap is closed and diversity of company leaders is extended, which would improve a company’s long-term prospects. 





Feyaza Khan has been a journalist for more than 20 years in print and broadcast. Her special interests include neurodiversity in the workplace, tech, diversity, trauma and wellbeing.