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Are your c-suite leaders equipped to make tough, strategic decisions?

26% of HR leaders say strategic thinking and decision-making abilities is the biggest gap in leadership performance.

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Posted On Apr 22, 2024 

The current myriad of external challenges facing UK executives are well-acknowledged: economic uncertainty, inflationary pressure, supply chain shocks, managing ESG risks and performance, and the lightening advance of AI amid a technical skills deficit, to name a few.


But new LHH research also highlights internal challenges and the performance gaps within executive teams that make it harder to manage these challenges, such as decision-making. 


It revealed the top internal challenge for UK executives is managing stakeholder expectations. In the UK, 26% of executives cited managing stakeholder expectations as a key concern, compared to 21% globally.


The same research highlighted a lack of confidence among executives to make strategic decisions – a skill that is crucial in stakeholder expectation management. UK executives consider strategic thinking and decision-making abilities to be one of their top areas for improvement, alongside the related skills of adaptability and change management.


Can mentoring help close the performance gap?


Decision-making abilities must be nurtured over time. Strategies such as ongoing peer mentoring enables executives to develop and sharpen these capabilities through knowledge and experience sharing and skills transfer. By aligning mentoring support with leadership demands it can improve the effectiveness and performance of individual leaders.

  • 14% Of leaders currently get access to peer mentoring or advisory
  • 20% Of HR leaders say that having limited access to mentoring and coaching opportunities is a challenge
  • 62% Of executives would like more leadership support options.

Companies can do more to nurture executives into decisive, effective leaders. 33% of HR leaders thinks their company offers adequate ongoing support to executives to perform at their best, compared to 43% who think support is lacking.

The lack of support for leaders who would benefit from it is reflected in 33% of HR leaders revealing that recent or planned executive redundancies and layoffs was down to poor business performance. Poor business performance can adversely impact stakeholder confidence and damage employer brand. There are also broader cost implications to losing executives due to skills-linked underperformance, such as recruitment and lost productivity costs.

Most HR leaders in the UK estimate the cost of replacing an executive to be in the region of £157,000 to £235,000 alone. However, this performance gap can be closed by developing the strategic thinking and decision-making capabilities of executives.


3 steps to turn underperforming executives into decisive leaders

  1. Offer all executives the opportunity for peer-level mentoring and coaching to improve their decision-making capabilities. Also provide a range of career support options to executives to address specific performance gaps as the research shows more career support options will be valued.

  2. Personalise mentoring and coaching to each executive. ICEO research indicates that a one-size-fits-all approach leads some executives to feel as though they have inadequate support.

  3. Make executive layoffs and redundancies a last resort. Investing in the skills, internal mobility, performance and succession plans of existing executives will be more cost effective than replacing them.


About ICEO

The International Centre for Executive Options (ICEO) is a boutique global practice from LHH that provides exclusive, bespoke career advisory services for sitting and transitioning senior leaders. With over 50 years of experience in executive career consulting and leadership development, we’ve supported countless leaders around the world to assess, identify and successfully navigate the next chapter in their career and life journey.