HR Leadership Insights Report 2021

DDI have released the next Global Leadership Forecast (GLF) Series Report – HR Leadership. For those who regularly read our blogs, you’ll recall the GLF is the worlds largest leadership trends and challenges forecast study, providing organisations globally a glimpse into upcoming leadership challenges and offering tangible solutions. For those of you just chiming in, please find the other GLF reports in this 2021 series on our website.

In one of the most turbulent labour markets in history, HR’s strategic role in shaping talent and leadership is hanging in the balance. As companies prepare for a faster, more tumultuous future, HR’s role is now even more important in creating the leadership and talent strategy to support that future. Understanding the key trends will help shape that future strategy.

So without further ado, the top 5 findings we here at Sheffield wish to share with our clients:


1. Leaders are unprepared for Hybrid Working  

Having a more dispersed workforce requires companies to better enable collaboration, and leaders to lead better virtually. Yet, only 20% of leaders rate themselves as very effective at leading virtually, a skill that may not have been critical until recently. The good news is that there are 3 very trainable behaviours that create an excellent virtual leader – focusing on well-being, fostering connectedness, and empathy!


2. Invest in your Future

Organisations that spent more than average on the development of their high potential leaders had higher percentages of leaders rated as high quality. They were also 57% more likely to be considered a best place to work than companies that spent less than average. But it’s not just the who, it’s also the how that counts. This study finds that a combination of Immersive experiences (like VR or simulations), Diagnostic assessments that inform targeted development, and On-demand course libraries more than doubles the overall leadership quality in an organisation (from 36% for organisations who don’t use these modalities, to 81% for organisations who use all three regularly); this reinforces the emphasis Sheffield places on the importance of assessment.


3. Powering a Diverse and Inclusive Culture 

Did you know that organisations with high quality D&I programs are 9X more likely to have high-quality leadership overall? They also have a stronger, more diverse pipeline with 48% more leaders ready to fill critical roles! Unfortunately this research discovered the 41% of companies still have weak or non-existent D&I programs, which is a big miss considering the benefits. Using these three D&I practices can achieve better leadership outcomes: A systematic process (e.g., strategic talent planning) to identify the quantity and quality of leadership required to drive future business success, Data from assessments and simulations to make leadership hiring and promotion decisions, Having a senior executive outside of HR champion leadership and talent strategy. These practices not only result in better diversity, but more successful promotions overall.


4. Treading Water to Keep Up with Turnover 

Retaining talent has risen as one of the greatest challenges for organisations following the pandemic, as many employees have re-evaluated what they want out of work. In a follow-up survey in September (2021) 53% of HR respondents reported increasing turnover and 20% of companies indicated that turnover hadn’t just increased, but it had increased significantly. It’s well known that leadership quality makes a difference in retaining top talent, however with unprecedented levels of resignations even exceptional leaders may experience turnover on their teams. Where leaders demonstrated strong Delegation & Empowerment, Virtual Leadership skills, and Digital Acumen, organisations are 2X more likely to capture knowledge before it’s lost, and 3X more likely to have a strong bench to fill critical leadership roles.


5. The Cost of Letting Leaders Go

Companies are bleeding leadership talent.

HR respondents in this study said they experienced average overall leader turnover of about 14% - 18%; this turnover in leadership roles comes at a high cost. Examining hiring success rates of leaders the GLF found that internally hired leaders are 25% more likely to be considered successful than those recruited from outside of their organisations. Howeverthere are solid solutions to boost the success rate of your external hires. These are:

  1. Leadership development programs that begin with a diagnosis of leader strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Leaders regularly review their development plans with their managers.
  3. Leaders have a library or learning system from which they can choose on-demand courses.
  4. Leaders’ development plans are high quality.

With Internal hires it’s seen that candidates often lack objectivity in their strengths and weaknesses so starting as development programme with a robust diagnostic tool is always important! The great thing about our integrated offering is that we are uniquely positioned to help you overcome the ‘new hire challenge’. Once our Search and Selection team has worked their magic, our Leadership Development team takes over to ensure success well after placement is guaranteed.


Contact Sheffield

These findings strongly reinforce the emphasis Sheffield places on the importance of assessment. Objective data obtained through assessment not only allows you to make more robust hiring decisions, but also ensures your development initiatives target the specific behaviours your leaders need to develop to be success in your organisation. Not only that, but this report also demonstrate that the solution to many of these challenges lies in developing critical, yet trainable, behaviours in leaders – another of Sheffield’s strengths. Assess where your leaders at with regards to these behaviours, and spend your efforts building on the skills they lack. 

In an ever changing world were talent is scares we want to highlight to our clients the core solutions. Let us help you implement these safeguards to ensure your business not only survives COVID-19, but thrives from it!

Download the full report here.

Sheffield and DDI

Sheffield has been the exclusive New Zealand Licensed Partner for DDI since December 2000. We provide seamless delivery of DDI's organisational development services to a broad base of clients using their internationally-acclaimed HR solutions. We help our clients get the best talent and the best out of their talent, through our deep knowledge of people – as individuals, in teams and in organisations.

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Executive Search and Selection Find people with the best skills, who fit your work-culture and maximise the potential of your business.

Leadership DevelopmentEnsure you have the resilient leadership required today, and can support the leaders of tomorrow. 

Psychometric Assessments Gain insight into strengths and development needs at an individual, team and organisational level.

Career TransitionNavigate change through practical guidance and in-depth career planning assistance. 


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To learn more about how we can help you and your organisation, please contact us