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Business leaders command a lot of respect at the office. Whether they are a top-ranking senior official or simply a project leader, these people are expected to be the drivers of change and forward momentum in the business landscape. Without capable leaders, companies will struggle to achieve organizational objectives and may stagnate or lose ground in their respective markets.

However, not all organizations are confident in their business leaders, and even some of these senior employees themselves have admitted they face numerous obstacles that block the progression they want to achieve. A recent study conducted by DDI World polled more than 13,000 business leaders and 1,500 human resource professionals and noted the bumpy roads that many corporations face as they look to develop strong leaders and empower these individuals to accomplish mission-critical tasks.

Can leaders stand and deliver?
This is the first question businesses must ask themselves – they have people in all the right positions, but are they qualified to do their job? Can they successfully guide an organization through both clear waters and the murky depths of the current economic climate and business landscapes?

The answer to those questions may differ depending on who you talk to. While 40 percent of leaders said they thought the overall quality of their organizations leadership was high, only 25 percent of HR professionals said the same. Additionally, as few as 15 percent of companies believed they had a strong bench of people who could immediately fill any leadership gaps in case a key senior employee left the organization, retired or had to step down for one reason or another.

Although this may sound like a problem, it is not an unfixable one. Many respondents were quick to note that their companies often did not give them the necessary support they needed to do their jobs effectively. Three common obstacles to the growth of leadership ability included few opportunities to develop, lack of support and no means of improving skills or knowledge.

When organizations embrace leadership and invest in their senior employees, DDI World found that average leadership quality and bench strength rose, companies were better able to fill positions immediately and these companies were approximately 2.3 times more likely to outperform their competitors in terms of financial metrics. Conversely, when firms do not invest in developing leadership, the quality of key executives declined and these companies had more trouble filling openings.

Investing in effective leadership development
If companies are concerned about the capability of their leaders, they need to consider looking into the various ways of helping them develop. The DDI World report noted a few effective approaches, including the creation of developmental assignments, mentoring from their supervisors and coaching from external mentors.

As many as 60 percent of executive respondents also noted the importance of formal workshops, training courses and seminars, making this option one of the most potent when it comes to bringing leaders up to speed. The right course can help leaders learn any number of skills, ranging from negotiation strategies to ways of developing influence among coworkers and business partners.