The Reality: The Gap is in the Middle, Not at the Top

2015 has been a year of clients asking us to conduct mid-level management positions – more than any year since the 1990s. Why is that?

That there would be a war for talent for open senior leadership positions by this time was a truism 5 years ago. Retirement of baby boomers was a fact; bench strength to back fill them was weak. Lack of resources spent in formal leadership development and structured succession planning translated to middle management leaders not ready to step up.

The readiness factor may be true, but in fact they are stepping up. By the end of 2014, clients launched VP level search assignments but increasingly the decision was to fill them internally. It wasn’t because strong candidates didn’t exist in the search. Rather, it was senior leadership asking the tough question. “Are you absolutely sure there is no one internally that can fill this role?”

That question is now being repeatedly asked. Clients are more readily promoting internal candidates or moving leaders laterally as developmental assignments. They willingly do so knowing the leadership development resource must be allocated to ensure the internal candidate can perform and succeed. The result: the gap is at the middle, not at the top. The truism didn’t come true. There isn’t a war for talent. Rather, it’s convincing talent to come fight for the other side and that the grass is truly greener on the other side.

October, 2015 by Sara Coffou