Global Leadership Forecast 2021

DDI’s Global Leadership Forecast (GLF) is the most expansive leadership research project of its kind. We first began this stream of research more than 20 years ago to help companies hire, promote, and develop leaders who could meet their future business challenges. In the Global Leadership Forecast 2021, we worked with HR analyst Josh Bersin to publish an unprecedented report series, representing a new era of leadership, precariously positioned to meet ongoing crises.

The Largest Leadership Study of Its Kind

This report examines responses from 2,102 human resource professionals and 15,787 leaders, spanning 50 countries and 24 major industry sectors. Published in partnership with HR analyst Josh Bersin, the research summarizes best talent practices and provides key trends to guide the future of leadership.

Global Leadership Forecast demographic pie

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A New Era Driven by Crisis

When we launched the survey in February of 2020, we had no idea what our world would face. We were able to capture responses from both before and during a global pandemic. What came through clearly in this year’s study is that companies are gearing up for an era of constant crisis, where if leaders want to succeed, they must also be ready to rapidly gain new skills and change. 

In the Global Leadership Forecast 2021, learn what’s keeping CEOs up at night, what companies can do to prevent burnout, how leadership will continue to change in a massively disrupted future, and more. 

Key Findings

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Explore the Global Leadership Forecast Series Reports

  • HR Insights
  • CEO Leadership
  • Leadership Transitions
  • Diversity and Inclusion

HR Insights

This report from the Global Leadership Forecast series examines new survey data and explores how trends have shaped HR’s role in the market, and set the stage for a dramatically different role in the years ahead.

  • Quality of D&I Programs Matter

    Companies with high-quality D&I programs are 9X more likely to have high-quality leadership overall.

  • Internal Hires Succeed More Often

    Internally hired leaders are successful 65% of the time, compared to 52% of external hires.

  • Virtual Leadership Skills Are Crucial

    Organizations who focus on leading virtual teams during development have 36% more leaders highly effective at leading virtually than other organizations.

Download the HR Report

CEO Leadership

This report from the Global Leadership Forecast series lays out the differentiating practices that enable companies to thrive in the future based on insights from CEOs and CHROs worldwide.

  • Next-Gen Leadership Looks Bleak

    Only 1 in 3 CEOs say their organization’s frontline leadership quality is “very good” or “excellent.””

  • New CEOs Overestimate Executive Teams

    New CEOs are 32% more likely to say their senior executives operate as an effective team.

  • CEO-CHRO Alignment Is Key

    Companies with CEO-CHRO alignment have 36% fewer leaders who intend to quit within a year.

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Leadership Transitions

This report from the Global Leadership Forecast series examines how leaders of all levels transition into new roles. Learn the cost of stressful transitions, the impact of poor transitions on later success, the rates of executive failure, and more.

  • Executive Transition Struggles

    Nearly half of all external executive hires fail, while 35% of internal executive hires are considered failures.

  • Stressful at All Levels

    More than one-third of all leaders described their transition as very stressful, and at least 5% thought of quitting.

  • Less Support for Women

    Men are 13% more likely to receive leadership training than women, and more men have up-to-date development plans.

Download the Transitions Report

Diversity and Inclusion

This report from the Global Leadership Forecast series takes a deep dive into what the data told us about the current state of diversity and inclusion. It answers key questions, including: How do leaders feel about D&I at their companies? Are there financial impacts? What’s the risk of ignoring it? How can we do better?

  • A Major Retention Risk

    Minority executives are more than twice as likely to say they plan to leave in the next year.

  • Diversity Pays Off

    Companies with above-average diversity in leadership are 8X more likely to be in the top 10% for financial performance.

  • Global State of D&I

    Globally, leaders from minority racial/ethnic backgrounds occupy just 22% of all leadership positions.

Download the D&I Report

5 Key Insights from the Pandemic

How did the global health crisis impact leadership? In this infographic, learn five key trends shaping the future of leadership development efforts.

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