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ILM research finds leaders and managers are lacking the key skills to manage well through a crisis

Blog posts | 09.02.2021


Shaping the future of learning

A survey conducted by ILM, a City & Guilds Group business, finds that leaders and managers are lacking the key skills needed to manage well, particularly in times of crisis.  As the world of work changes, and the pandemic presents new challenges, we explore what this means for leaders and managers and how businesses can ensure their leaders have the right skills and qualities for the future. Afterall, great leaders are the cornerstones by which an organisation can pivot and rapidly make changes for the better!

The changing world of work

Covid-19 has undoubtedly changed the world of work for many across the UK, with businesses facing increased uncertainty, economic pressures and rapidly changing circumstances. For leadership and management, this has all meant having to adapt quickly and in many cases transition to completely new ways of working - from managing teams now working remotely, to reinventing business processes and quickly responding to the new landscape.

These fundamental changes to how we all live and work has a knock-on effect on the skills and competencies required of our leaders and managers to be effective. In their latest research, ILM surveyed 3,500 working age people from across the UK to understand their experience of leadership and management in their business during the pandemic. As well as exploring their current experiences, the research examines the initiatives employers have in place (or don’t) to develop leadership and management skills within their organisation, and the skills needed for the future.

Managing a crisis

The widespread and significant impact of the pandemic has naturally put a focus on leadership, as employees turn to management to help navigate change. But almost three-quarters of those surveyed felt that leadership and management had been lacking during the pandemic, with senior and middle management levels cited as the areas most lacking (33% and 29% respectively). And the qualities most essential during a crisis were found to be those most lacking too - such as problem solving, empowering and motivating teams and empathy or emotional intelligence.

Front line managers have a huge impact across an organisation, and development of these leaders in the core skills they need to lead through crisis will be vital in the coming years as we navigate through the impact of not only the pandemic but Brexit and the economic difficulties to come.

'Soft' skills are most important, but also most lacking

When it comes to leading teams in challenging and changing circumstances, managers need to be equipped with not only the practical and technological skills to work effectively, but also the softer interpersonal and communication skills. The ILM report highlights the most important skills for managers and leaders:

  • People Management (68%)
  • Communication (48%)
  • Building relationships and interpersonal skills (48%)

And the skills that most respondents said their own managers and leaders need to improve:

  • People Management (45%)
  • Communication (39%)
  • Building relationships and interpersonal skills (38%)

The fact that these three vital skills are showing up on both lists signals the need for businesses to invest in their leadership and management training, but 27% of those surveyed said their organisation did not offer or they were not aware of any opportunities to develop leadership and management skills at work.

Leading and learning in the digital landscape

Whether the pandemic has dramatically changed your ways of working, accelerated a move to more remote based teams or acted as a catalyst to a shift towards more digital ways of working, it’s a trend that looks set to stay long after Covid-19. Even for experienced leaders and managers, this means developing new skills to lead teams effectively, perhaps from a distance, and with a culture of clarity, openness and trust. Their development needs to be supported both by training and the right tools to communicate effectively.

And as training and development has also had to pivot more to online, it might be time to review the leadership and management training you have in place. Especially in uncertain times, investing in learning and development for your leaders and managers is vital. We can help you make sure they have the tools they need to be great, from bespoke digital learning to ready to use off-the-shelf elearning.

If you’d like to find out more, contact us or sample our course library. We offer a 14-day free course trial for you to experience Kineo Course content for yourself and for your organisation without any obligation to buy.


Shaping the future of learning

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