Research: 50% of management candidates lack leadership skills

Photo of origami ships
By Alex Burden, Professional Development

17 July 2017

Are you thinking of moving into a leadership or management role and believe you have the skills covered? Research shows that candidates are lacking a key element.

Specialist recruitment service Robert Half talked to 200 UK HR directors, who stated that a whopping 50% of management candidates did not have leadership skills.

Other skills that needed development for the chosen role included strategic planning, job-related functions and communication, but overwhelmingly it was leadership abilities that let candidates down.

Robert Half Research: The areas HR directors would like to see candidates improve the most

SkillsManagement level positionsStaff level positions
Strategic planning18%5%
Functional, job-related skills15%49%
Project management5%5%

“The need for developing soft skills as professionals advance in their careers is becoming ever more important," explained Phil Sheridan, Senior Managing Director at Robert Half UK. "Many organisations today are reviewing their growth goals for the year and are ensuring they have the right people on hand to help steer the organisation to meet those goals.

One thing that is clear is the need for new hires to add value from day one and support the business objectives.

“When adding new professionals to their team, hiring managers base their decisions on different criteria, depending on the level of seniority of the role.

"Professional experience and functional skills are the most important factors for hiring managers recruiting for staff level roles, in comparison to the emphasis on leadership skills for management level.

"One thing that is clear from both is the need for new hires to add value from day one and support the business objectives."

What happens if I'm technically qualified?

Although presenting candidates may have had the technical skills and experience required of the job, it was a lack of development in 'softer' skills such as leadership which stood to work against the applicant.

Personal finance website The Balance spoke to their in-house experts about the best way to tackle leadership questions in interviews, by considering the most important leadership aspects needed for the role, and how you can best exemplify your talents in answers.

If on reflection, you feel that your skills need a nudge in the right direction and you wish to stay ahead of the competition through professional development, then look no further than our range of online learning and resources in leadership and management.


  • Leadership and management
  • Online learning

Previous Page