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Lack of talented bosses a drag on regional business

Lack of talented bosses a drag on regional business

IBM report report finds 88 per cent of companies in the Asia-Pacific region are concerned about their ability to develop future leaders.

Businesses in the Asia-Pacific region have yet to develop well-established leadership processes, as the shortage of management talent pushes salaries to record levels. The severity of the problem stems from an insufficient number of potential leaders and leadership development constraints, according to IBM's Global Human Capital Study 2008 called Unlocking the DNA of the Adaptable Workforce.

The report finds that 88 per cent of companies in the Asia-Pacific region are concerned about their ability to develop future leaders, followed by Latin America (74 per cent), Europe, Middle East and Africa (74 per cent), Japan (73 per cent), and North America (69 per cent).

It reveals that many companies in the region, having grown at a rapid pace, have not yet established a rigorous, sustainable leadership development process.

Tight labour markets in certain sectors are also making it more difficult to develop and retain leaders, as opportunities outside the organisation are often easy to obtain. "For example, companies in the natural-resources sector in Asia Pacific were facing significant personnel shortages at the same time as customer demand for raw materials continued to increase," the IBM study says.

In addition, companies in Asia are expanding beyond their home markets and creating a more global footprint. This rapid growth is straining organisations' already limited leadership development capabilities.

The study finds the drivers of attracting and retaining talent in Asia Pacific differ from those in other regions. While 46 per cent of human-resources executives in Asia Pacific reported that compensation played a strong role in attracting candidates, the global average was 33 per cent. In addition, 53 per cent of HR executives in the region said increased career opportunities played a greater role in employee retention, against a global average of 43 per cent.

Nevertheless, the developing economies of China, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and India continue to lead the pay gap rankings between high and low-paid workers.

"As is the case globally, the shortage of management talent in these economies has pushed up salaries at the top end, while the less internationally mobile junior staff are paid in line with local market rates," the reward information services manager with the Hays Group, Wendy Nicholls, said.

Hays has just published a study measuring the pay gap between the average staff levels and senior managers of 61 countries. It ranks Australia 51 and most Asian countries in the top 10.

"The larger the population of well-educated and highly trained workers, the smaller the pay disparity," Ms Nicholls said. "In emerging economies such as China, the scarcity of management talent is putting significant pressure on these senior level salaries."

Fairfax Business Media

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