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It is widely accepted that effective leadership is essential for the long-term success of any business. Indeed, high-quality leadership is imperative for transforming a group of individuals into a team and shaping them into a force that operates as a competitive business.

Recent research carried out by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) and by talent management consultancy DDI entitled UK Highlights: Global Leadership Forecast has revealed that today's leaders are not equipped to handle the challenges that organisations face in the new economic scenario.

The study carried out on 367 business leaders and 56 HR professionals in the UK revealed that only 36 per cent of business leaders and 18 per cent of HR professionals rate their organisation's quality of leadership as "high".

Furthermore, the research revealed that only 38 per cent of both UK leaders and HR professionals rate their organisations' leadership programmes as being highly effective. Indeed, 20 per cent of leaders and 24 per cent of HR professionals rate these programmes as "highly ineffective".

It could well be argued that these two studies paint a worrying picture for businesses today, as the quality of leadership is vital for the success and sustainability of an organisation.

The UK research demonstrated that businesses that have the highest quality leaders stand a better chance of outperforming their competitors in key basic areas such as financial performance, quality of products and services, employee engagement and customer satisfaction.

In addition, the research revealed that organisations with leaders of the highest quality are the ones that are able to retain the highest number of employees and have the most engaged and passionate leaders.

Finally, the UK study uncovered three key drivers that would help improve the quality of leadership within the organisation. These are leadership development, talent management and management culture. The report states that for organisations to be able to achieve the high-quality leadership needed to drive business success in the coming years, organisations need effective leadership development systems along with effective talent systems, surrounding leadership development - which includes selection, performance management and succession management.

The studies have identified the key skills leaders need and the kind of development and talent management processes that are most effective. The HR function's role in all this lies in being able to truly understand who its customers are to ensure that it plays a crucial role in the success of its leaders and, more importantly, the success of its business. As Warren Bennis, a leadership expert, said: "A BUSINESS SHORT ON CAPITAL CAN BORROW MONEY, AND ONE WITH A POOR LOCATION CAN MOVE, BUT A BUSINESS SHORT ON LEADERSHIP HAS LITTLE CHANCE OF SURVIVAL."

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