Top Companies Reap the Benefits of Bench Strength

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Fragile Workforces Keep CEOs Up at Night A Crisis of Trust in Leadership


Bench Strength Has Not Recovered Since the Pandemic

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Companies Struggle to Build Their Bench, but Those That Succeed Gain Big Rewards

One of the most concerning longitudinal trends over the last decade of Global Leadership Forecast research is the shortage of leaders to fulfill critical roles. After the pandemic and Great Resignation decimated talent pools, companies have struggled to rebuild amid new cultural and economic paradigms.

There is a significant shortage of leaders who are prepared to fill key leadership roles.

While only 12% of companies report confidence in the strength of their bench, those organizations are reaping significant benefits. Compared to companies with weak benches, companies that report strong benches are:

  • 10X more likely to have employees rate their leader quality as “very good” or “excellent.”
  • 6X more likely to be capable of engaging and retaining top talent.
  • 5X more likely to be able to prevent employee burnout.
  • 3X more likely to be among financially top-performing organizations.

Companies with a strong bench invest heavily in identifying and developing high-potential talent with diverse capabilities, enabling the organization to be more agile meeting business challenges.


Look for Leadership Potential in Unexpected Places

In a tight labor market, companies need to find leadership talent internally, which is increasingly difficult as benches become leaner. HR respondents agree with this challenge, and 33% said there will be a significant increase in the need to develop internal talent.

To see long-term success, companies must be thoughtful and creative about finding and building leadership potential within their organizations.

Here's how companies can develop and surface potential leaders internally:


Plan for a stronger and diverse future pipeline.

When companies proactively plan for future talent needs, they are more likely to have diverse leadership. Companies with strong benches have 22% more women leaders and 36% greater leader background diversity than companies with weak benches. However, many companies still overlook key talent. Only 18% of leaders say leaders in their company represent diverse demographic backgrounds, and only 21% say their organization recruits and promotes from diverse candidate pools.


Surface potential earlier and more broadly.

The greatest source of untapped leadership potential is at the lowest levels of an organization. However, leaders may not recognize potential if it doesn’t align with what leadership has traditionally looked like in the organization. This problem may be further exacerbated in remote and hybrid workforces, where there is often lower visibility of employee profiles, effort, contributions, and work styles. Organizations can leverage digital assessments as an unbiased way to identify hidden high-potential talent.


Develop leaders’ virtual capabilities to build talent.

Across a broad set of leadership skills, leaders reported being least confident in their skills to identify and develop talent. They also lack confidence in their virtual leadership capabilities. Companies that prioritize their leaders’ skills in virtual talent development will have a strong edge over companies that overlook the potential in their virtual workforce.


Create dynamic success profiles for critical roles.

Defining the key leadership skills for specific roles can help leaders focus their development for success in their current role and earn promotions. However, leadership success profiles should be dynamic, incorporating critical leadership skills to support a company’s current strategy and adapting to include different skills if the strategy changes. By measuring leaders’ capabilities against dynamic profiles, you can see an accurate picture of who is ready to step into next-level roles.

Data Dive

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Only 21% of leaders say their company recruits and promotes from diverse candidate pools.

Fragile Workforces Keep CEOs Up at Night A Crisis of Trust in Leadership


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