Introducing: Our new High-Impact Leadership Research






Last summer, we asked ourselves: “Why do organizations still struggle to grow leaders?” We knew that organizations’ efforts and spending on leadership development was increasing every year, but we also knew that many companies are left wondering about why their efforts in identifying top talent, developing leaders’ capabilities, or pumping up their leadership pipelines don’t pay off. We also know they often don’t pay off, because, according to our research, only:

• Only two in five leaders build talent in their organizations,
 • Only half of all leaders drive change and innovation, and
 • Only three in five leaders execute and achieve results through their people.

To learn more about the root cause of this problem and to help our members address it, we embarked on our biggest leadership research initiative to date: we interviewed dozens of HR and learning professionals, academics, and leadership consultants. We launched a survey and received more than 2,000 responses from HR and business leaders around the world. And we took a very close look at those things that some of the most effective companies in the world do to grow their leaders.

Today we are thrilled to launch our new High-Impact Leadership Research – here are a few insights upfront:

New Leadership Research Results

The most surprising finding was that the most effective organizations  don’t actually focus all their attention on formal leadership development programs. Instead, they create a work context for leaders that supports them in their daily development.

In our reports, we describe 17 specific practices that our research shows drive both increased leadership capability and business outcomes. These 17 practices fall into three categories:

• Organizational Design (e.g. how decisions are made, how people collaborate)
 • Organizational Culture (e.g. how leaders learn what successful leadership is, how they share knowledge and take risks, and more)
 • Designed Leadership efforts (e.g. how HR and business leaders collaborate, or how leadership development is integrated with career and other Talent Management processes)

 What does this mean for your organization?

We define the approach taken by these top organizations as “Systemic Leadership”.  Our research explains in detail how other organizations can adopt a systemic approach to leadership growth, and provides specific examples and guidelines of how to get there. Depending on your organization’s level of leadership maturity, we encourage you to completely rethink your approach to leadership development. We suggest you shift your attention to the organizational context and ask yourself an important question:

Which of your processes and practices help – or prevent – our leaders from continuously growing, developing and learning?

In a nutshell, our data clearly shows:

Level 1 companies focus on training programs, and report the least impressive outcomes on business and leadership outcomes. In contrast, Level 4 companies complement their programs with a carefully designed culture, work context and collaborative spirit between HR and business leaders. Almost needless to say, they have the highest percentage of leadership with critical capabilities, and report higher business outcomes.

Where can you read more to learn more?

Bersin members will be able to download a variety of reports, for example:

• High-Impact Leadership: Build Leadership Growth into Your Company's DNA: A short Executive Perspective summarizing the gist of the research
High-Impact Leadership: The New Leadership Maturity Model: A detailed report introducing the 17 practices and the new Leadership Model – including a tool called “Progression of Capabilities” for a quick assessment of your organization’s Leadership Maturity Level.
High-Impact Leadership: Maturity Model Benchmarks: A detailed benchmarking report on leadership development data

A complimentary summary of this research can also be downloaded by non-Bersin members here:

For questions, please email me at

Andrea Derler

Leadership & Succession Research Leader / Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Andrea leads Bersin’s research execution team and also serves as leadership and succession management research leader for Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP. Focused on the continued evolution of Bersin’s research capabilities, her expertise lies in research on business leadership, leadership development and learning, and related talent topics. Her work about leaders’ ideal employee received widespread media attention in Europe and has been published in the journal Leadership & Organization Development. Andrea has a doctoral degree in economics (leadership and organization) from the FernUniversity Hagen (Germany) and a master’s degree in philosophy from the Karl-Franzens-University in Graz (Austria).

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