Human Capital Media and Skillsoft Research Shows Organizations Recognize the Need for Agile Leadership Development at all Levels, Yet Adoption Lags

Global survey reveals a growing skills gap in agile leadership skills required across all levels of the organization to succeed in today’s digital economy

CHICAGO and BOSTON – March 5, 2019 – Human Capital Media and Skillsoft today announced the results of global research demonstrating the growing need to align leadership development with the core competencies required to thrive in the digital economy. The study found that organizations recognize that their leaders must be adequately equipped to both adapt and flourish in today’s fast-paced, constantly evolving business environment. Despite this acknowledgment, the pace of adoption of leadership training to fill the need has not kept up.

A newly released whitepaper, “Mastering Leadership Development for a Digital Economy,” features the survey results of nearly 500 respondents from a variety of global HR and learning professionals across a wide spectrum of industries.

As organizations report the need for greater agility, more than three-quarters of survey respondents noted their focus on actively changing leadership competencies, with many citing a specific focus on fostering agile, collaborative and inclusive leaders. Another emerging theme is the need for leadership training to expand across employees at all job levels as organizational structures flatten and cross-functional teams multiply. Equally important, keeping pace with new technology was cited as the most critical capability gap for leaders today.

Additional key survey findings include:

  • Leadership competencies are changing
    • 69 percent of organizations are looking to develop leaders who will create and empower teams
    • 76 percent of organizations have either changed their leadership competencies recently, just created leadership competencies for the first time or plan to change their leadership competencies soon
  • Adoption of leadership competencies is far from complete
    • 88 percent state that the skills and competencies needed by leaders are changing in response to the digital economy
    • A mere 6 percent of organizations have already modernized their leadership competency model and implemented these changes while 34 percent are just getting started with adjusting their leadership competencies
  • Organizations must provide leadership training at scale
    • 95 percent state employees who aren’t currently supervising need leadership skills
    • 86 percent say employees are assuming leadership roles without a formal leader designation
  • Technology adoption for leadership development promises to accelerate
    • 49 percent of organizations consider leading with digital technology a high priority
    • 36 percent of organizations are currently leading with digital technology in leadership development competencies

“Agile is no longer just a methodology for technology companies. As the proliferation of digital technology causes rapid and disruptive market change across all industries, the business environment and workforce expectations are evolving just as quickly,” stated Sarah Kimmel, Vice President of Research, Human Capital Media. “To keep pace with these changes, business leaders and employees at all levels are being called upon to drive innovation in their organizations.”

“Organizations must recognize that leadership development competency frameworks developed 30 years ago and targeted toward only a select audience of more senior executives are no longer effective. By introducing new leadership development competencies not only for executives but across all levels, organizations will be better equipped to persevere through rapid market change,” said Heide Abelli, SVP, Content Product Management, Skillsoft. “While the speed of change creates opportunity for organizations poised to adapt, it punishes those unwilling or slow to respond.”

Download the report and view an infographic about "Mastering Leadership Development for a Digital Economy.”

About Human Capital Media

The Human Capital Media (HCM) Research and Advisory Group is the research division of Human Capital Media, publisher of Chief Learning Officer, Talent Economy and Workforce magazines. The Research and Advisory Group specializes in partnered custom content solutions—customizable and proprietary deliverables that integrate seamlessly with existing marketing programs. For more information, visit

About Skillsoft

Skillsoft is a global leader in corporate learning, delivering beautiful technology and engaging content that drives business impact for modern enterprises. Skillsoft comprises three award-winning systems that support learning, performance and success: Skillsoft learning content, the Percipio intelligent learning experience platform and the SumTotal suite for Human Capital Management.

Skillsoft provides a comprehensive selection of cloud-based corporate learning content, including courses, videos, books and other resources on Business and Management Skills, Leadership Development, Digital Transformation, Technology and Developer, Productivity and Collaboration Tools and Compliance. Percipio’s intuitive design engages modern learners and its consumer-led experience assists in accelerating learning. The SumTotal suite features four key components built on a unified platform: Learning Management, Talent Management, Talent Acquisition and Workforce Management.

Skillsoft is trusted by thousands of the world's leading organizations, including 65 percent of the Fortune 500. Learn more at


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