Are We Facing a Leadership Crisis?

Finding, attracting and retaining good leadership has always been a concern for most organizations. However, according to recent trends, it’s becoming more and more of a challenge. A startling 86% of respondents to the Survey on the Global Agenda agree that we have a leadership crisis in the world today and are about to experience a shortage of effective senior leaders. Why?

As is true of most complex problems, it’s likely that several factors have combined into a bit of a perfect storm, one of which is that over the past decade, many senior leaders have chosen to work past retirement. In order to deal with the declining 401(k) balances and falling home values of the last economic downturn, many senior executives decided the best solution was to delay retirement. After all, working one additional year typically increases annual retirement income by 9 percent. This has created quite a bit of congestion at the top (sometimes called the “grey ceiling”) and a disproportionate amount of senior leaders who are immediately eligible for retirement, or who will be within the next five years.

“A generation of workers can’t get ahead – because aging boomers above them won’t budge.”

—Anne Fisher, Fortune Magazine. August 21, 2006

While senior leaders delayed retirement, many organizations dealt with shrinking budgets by spending less on formal development programs. With an estimated four million executives retiring each year for the next several years, you can begin to see the problem. Lifting the grey ceiling is great news for younger generations trying to get ahead – but very bad news if they haven’t received the development necessary to fill those positions effectively.

According to the Ken Blanchard Company’s annual corporate issues survey, there is a skills gap for those moving towards corporate leadership positions. Under the pressure of budgetary restrictions and the need to innovate, change and adjust in order to keep up with the ever increasing speed of business, it’s easy to focus only on immediate needs, letting fundamental systemic issues take a back seat. This is an extremely dangerous strategy that almost always threatens long term success.

“As a company, we’ve been looking at the connection between leadership practices, employee work passion, customer devotion, and an organization’s bottom line. What we’ve found is that there is a clear connection between the quality of an organization’s leadership practices—as perceived by employees—and subsequent intentions by employees to stay with an organization, perform at a high level, and apply discretionary effort.”

David Witt, a researcher with The Ken Blanchard Companies

As organizations begin to understand the depth of the problem, many are reporting that their most pressing priorities right now are leadership development, managerial development, supervisory development, coaching skills for leaders and communications skills. This mad scramble to fill the leadership gap only emphasizes exactly why the work of the Foundation is so important – and why the Credit Union industry might just be ahead of the curve.

Leadership development isn’t just a “nice to have” initiative. It’s absolutely vital to the success and survival of every single organization. We believe that with every fiber of our being, and suspect you do as well.

Our goal is to support every Credit Union in our fold as they strive to fill their leadership pipeline with bright, talented leaders who have been well trained in every aspect of Credit Union growth and operations. So my question to you is this: How else can we support you?


About Dan Finerty

Dan Finerty is the Director of Marketing at the Mountain West Credit Union Association, a Credit Union champion, a Credit Union Development Educator (CUDE), and an award-winning marketer. Dan has over 14 years of marketing experience in communications, retail, packaged goods, and, of course, Credit Unions. He believes that Credit Unions have an incredible story to tell and works with some of the brightest Credit Union professionals to help promote Credit Unions to the public. Dan holds two Bachelor’s of Science in Marketing and in Management. He is also a swell guy.

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