brown game pieces on white surface
General Leadership

Closing the Leadership Gap: How to Identify the Gap and Close


In today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving business landscape, organizations are faced with a significant challenge – the leadership gap. The leadership gap refers to the disconnect between the skills and abilities that current leaders possess and the skills and abilities that are necessary for effective leadership in the future. This gap is a pressing concern for talent management professionals and CEOs [2] worldwide.

The Nature of Leadership Gaps

silhouette of people on hill
Photo by Jehyun Sung

There is a growing recognition that the leadership skills and competencies that have served organizations well in the past may not be sufficient for the future. As the baby boomer generation retires in large numbers, organizations are losing experienced leaders who possess valuable knowledge and skills. At the same time, rapid technological advancements, changes in the nature of work, and the need for diverse and inclusive leadership create new challenges for organizations.

The leadership gap manifests itself in various ways. Research has identified specific competencies that are often weak or missing in leaders today. These include managing change, inspiring commitment, leading employees, taking initiative, building collaborative relationships, having a strategic perspective, understanding strategic planning, embracing a participative management approach, and being a quick learner. [1] These competencies are crucial for leaders to navigate complex and rapidly changing environments effectively.

Multiple factors contribute to the leadership gap. Outdated ideas about leadership, resistance to change, and the failure to prioritize leadership development are some internal challenges that organizations face. Additionally, external factors such as intense competition for top talent and the impact of digital disruption further exacerbate the leadership gap.

To bridge the leadership gap, organizations must take a proactive approach. This involves conducting a comprehensive needs assessment to identify specific leadership requirements for the future. It is crucial to develop a robust leadership strategy aligned with the organizational goals and objectives. Additionally, organizations should create clear and specific goals for individual leadership development, providing targeted development initiatives to address specific competency gaps.

Closing the leadership gap requires ongoing evaluation and measurement of the effectiveness of leadership development efforts. By continuously assessing the impact of development programs, organizations can make data-driven decisions and adjust strategies accordingly.

It is important to note that closing the leadership gap is not solely the responsibility of the organization; individual leaders also play a significant role. Leaders must take ownership of their own development and actively seek out opportunities to enhance their skills and competencies. This includes seeking feedback, engaging in self-reflection, and seeking out coaching and mentoring relationships.

The leadership gap is a complex and multifaceted challenge faced by organizations today. However, with a proactive and strategic approach, organizations can identify the specific gaps in leadership and take steps to close them. By prioritizing leadership development, organizations can cultivate a robust leadership pipeline and ensure that they have the right leaders in place to navigate the challenges of the future.

Identifying Leadership Gaps

In today’s rapidly changing business landscape, organizations are facing a significant leadership gap. With the retirement of baby boomers and the need for new leadership skills in the digital age, it has become crucial for companies to identify and address these gaps in their leadership teams.

1. The Alarming Statistics

The statistics are clear: 19,000 baby boomers are retiring every day, leaving a void in leadership [3] positions. Additionally, a survey of over 1,000 C-level executives identified developing “Next Gen” leaders as their top challenge. Furthermore, 53% of employees leave their jobs due to issues with their direct supervisor. These numbers highlight the urgent need for organizations to address the leadership gap and develop strong leaders at all levels.

2. Internal and External Factors

There are several factors that contribute to the leadership gap. Outdated ideas about leadership often hinder organizations from recognizing the need for new leadership skills. Additionally, digital disruption has changed the way we work, requiring leaders to adapt and develop new skills. Flatter organizational structures and increased competition for top talent also pose challenges in developing effective leaders. Finally, misaligned systems for measuring and rewarding work performance [1] can lead to ineffective leadership development.

3. Bridging the Gap

To bridge the leadership gap, organizations must take a proactive approach. This starts with performing a thorough needs assessment to identify the specific challenges they are facing. From there, organizations can create a leadership strategy that aligns with their business goals. It is crucial to develop clear and specific goals for individual leadership development to address the identified gaps. Creating systems for measuring the impact of leadership development efforts is also essential to track progress and make necessary adjustments.

4. The Role of the Leadership Gap Indicator

To assist organizations in identifying their specific strengths, challenges, and deficits in leadership, the Leadership Gap Indicator tool developed by CCL is a valuable resource. This tool provides a comprehensive assessment of an organization’s leadership capabilities and helps identify potential gaps. By gaining insights into their leadership development needs, organizations can create targeted programs and initiatives to close those gaps and develop a strong leadership pipeline for the future.

5. Taking Action

Closing the leadership gap requires a concerted effort from organizations. It starts with recognizing the need to develop leaders at all levels and investing in their growth and development. By providing training, coaching, and mentorship opportunities, organizations can equip their leaders with the necessary skills to thrive in the ever-changing business environment. By addressing the leadership gap head-on, organizations can ensure their continued success and growth.

How to Close the Leadership Gap

Closing the leadership gap is essential for organizations to thrive and succeed in today’s rapidly changing business landscape. By identifying the gap and taking targeted actions, companies can develop effective leaders at all levels and build a strong leadership pipeline for the future. Here are some steps to help close the leadership gap:

1. Perform a Needs Assessment

Start by evaluating your current leadership talent and identifying areas of strength and areas that need improvement. Use tools like leadership assessments and employee feedback to gain insights into the skills and capabilities of your leaders. This assessment will provide a clear understanding of where the leadership gap exists in your organization.

2. Create a Leadership Strategy

Based on the needs assessment, develop a leadership strategy that aligns with your organization’s goals and objectives. This strategy should outline the key competencies and skills required for future leaders and provide a roadmap for leadership development initiatives. By linking leadership development with the strategic direction of the organization, you can ensure that your leadership efforts are focused and impactful.

3. Develop Clear Goals and Strategies for Individual Leadership Development

Once you have identified the areas for development, work with individual leaders to set clear goals and create development plans tailored to their specific needs. Provide them with targeted training, coaching, and mentoring opportunities to enhance their skills and capabilities. Encourage leaders to take ownership of their development and provide ongoing support and guidance to help them succeed.

4. Create Systems for Measuring and Evaluating Progress

To ensure that your leadership development efforts are effective, establish systems for measuring and evaluating progress. Regularly assess the impact of your leadership development initiatives and make adjustments as needed. Use metrics such as employee engagement, retention, and performance to gauge the effectiveness of your leadership programs. This [2] data will provide valuable insights into the progress you are making in closing the leadership gap.

5. Foster a Culture of Continuous Learning and Improvement

To sustain the momentum in closing the leadership gap, create a culture of continuous learning and improvement. Encourage leaders to seek out new opportunities for growth and development and provide resources and support to facilitate their learning journey. Promote a culture of feedback and accountability, where leaders are encouraged to reflect on their performance and seek input from others to enhance their leadership skills.

6. Leverage Technology and Digital Tools

In today’s digital age, technology can play a crucial role in closing the leadership gap. Leverage online learning platforms, virtual training programs, and digital tools to deliver leadership development initiatives to a geographically dispersed workforce. By embracing technology, you can reach a larger audience and provide flexible and accessible learning opportunities for leaders at all levels.

Closing the leadership gap requires a strategic and concerted effort from organizations. By performing a needs assessment, creating a leadership strategy, developing individual leaders, measuring progress, fostering a culture of learning, and leveraging technology, companies can bridge the gap and develop effective leaders who can navigate the challenges of the future. Investing in leadership development is an investment in the long-term success and sustainability of your organization. Together, let’s close the leadership gap and build a strong foundation for [1] growth and prosperity.

The Results of Addressing Leadership Gaps

two person standing on gray tile paving

Photo by Ian Schneider

Addressing leadership gaps is crucial for the growth and success of any organization. By recognizing the gap and taking proactive steps to close it, companies can reap numerous benefits. Here are some of the results of addressing leadership [4] gaps:

1. High-performing teams

When leaders possess the necessary skills and competencies, they are better equipped to build and manage high-performing teams. Effective leadership inspires and motivates employees, fosters collaboration, and drives productivity.

2. Successful projects

Strong leadership ensures that projects are executed effectively and efficiently. Leaders with the right skills can effectively plan, delegate tasks, and manage resources, leading to successful project outcomes.

3. Great leadership bench strength

Closing the leadership gap means developing a strong pipeline of leaders within the organization. By identifying and nurturing future leaders, companies can avoid a talent shortage and ensure continuity in leadership roles.

4. Increased productivity

Effective leaders can inspire and engage their teams, leading to increased productivity. When leaders understand how to motivate and support their employees, they create a positive work environment that drives results.

5. Improved employee satisfaction and retention

Addressing leadership gaps can lead to improved employee satisfaction and higher retention rates. When employees have confidence in their leaders and feel supported and valued, they are more likely to stay with the organization.

6. Reduced recruitment and training costs

Companies that develop their leaders internally can reduce recruitment and training costs. By investing in leadership development programs and promoting from within, companies can minimize the need for external hires and the associated costs.

7. Enhanced company culture

Strong leadership sets the tone for the organization’s culture. When leaders exemplify the desired values and behaviors, it creates a positive and inclusive work environment that attracts and retains top talent.

8. Better decision-making

Leaders who have been equipped with the necessary skills and competencies make better decisions. They have the ability to analyze complex situations, consider various perspectives, and make informed decisions that benefit the organization as a whole.

9. Increased innovation and creativity

Effective leaders encourage innovation and creativity within their teams. They create an environment where employees feel comfortable taking risks, sharing ideas, and thinking outside the box, leading to innovative solutions and growth opportunities.

10. Organizational growth and success

Ultimately, addressing leadership gaps leads to organizational growth and success. When leaders possess the right skills, expertise, and mindset, they can navigate complex challenges, adapt to changing market conditions, and drive the organization forward.

By recognizing and addressing leadership gaps, companies can unlock the full potential of their leaders and achieve sustainable growth. Investing in leadership development and providing ongoing support and training ensures that leaders have the tools and knowledge they need to excel in their roles. Closing the leadership gap is not only beneficial for the organization but also for the individual leaders themselves, as it can contribute to their personal and professional growth. Let’s create sustainable leadership models that not only address today’s challenges but also foster resilience for the future. And in doing so, we fortify not just our organizations, but also our societies, shaping a more vibrant, inclusive, and successful tomorrow.


[1] The Leadership Gap: How to Fix What Your Organization Lacks
[2] What the Leadership Gap Means for Today’s Workforce
[3] 6 Steps to Close the Leadership Gap – MEA Blog
[4] What 17 Leadership Gaps Look Like (And How Companies …

Max Johnson

Max Johnson is currently a Vice President at a Fortunate 100 company. He has also held multiple leadership positions at two startups previously. When he is not busy working, you can find him surfing at the beach or skiing in the mountains.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *