Research shows that in the UK:

  • Ineffective management is estimated to be costing UK businesses over £19billion per year in lost working hours
  • 43% of UK managers rate their own line manager as ineffective – and only one in five are qualified
  • Nearly three quarters of organisations in England reported a deficit of management and leadership skills in 2012. This deficit is contributing to our productivity gap with countries like the US, Germany and Japan
  • Incompetence or bad management of company directors causes 56 % of corporate failures

This is not a universal problem. The UK does develop some excellent managers. Evidence also shows that the quality of leadership and management has been improving in the UK over the past ten years. But our main competitors are also raising their game so we cannot afford to be complacent.

Management development: a proactive approach to growth

Quite simply, improving leadership and management capability is an issue that no organisation wishing to achieve long-term success can afford to ignore. There is no question that good leadership and management can have a truly significant impact on organisational performance, both in the immediate and longer term.

Best-practice management development can result in a 23% increase in organisational performance.

Effective management can significantly improve levels of employee engagement

A single point improvement in management practices (rated on a five-point scale) is associated with the same increase in output as a 25% increase in the labour force or a 65% percent increase in invested capital

Our long term success is dependent on developing these skills: the UK Commission for Employment and Skills’ Working Futures report indicates that the UK will need 544,000 new managers by end of the decade.

Analysis by UKCES has shown that management skills are crucial to ensuring high performance working and business success. Organisations with a more qualified management workforce and a dedicated programme of management development have been shown to perform better and have more sophisticated and higher quality product and market strategies.

How do we overcome this 

There is no simple answer as to why the UK is underperforming when it comes to management and leadership, although studies suggest that UK managers are significantly less well qualified with substantial skills gaps. Relatively low levels of training, shortages of key skills, the failure to apply skills strategically, and employer concern about the relevance of training provision, have also been identified as potential reasons.

Other factors include difficulties in recruiting graduates with the right skills, particularly for small and medium sized companies; a perception that leadership and management skills are something you “pick up” on the job; and lack of clarity about the specific leadership and management skills and behaviours managers need to display.

Adapted from a paper written by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills Leadership and Management Network Group.