How to overcome the leadership skills shortage in South Africa

Posted on Tue, Oct 17th, 2017

The main factors impacting leadership skills in South Africa are that the right candidate, with the necessary leadership skills, is simply difficult to access, and therefore, to identify. Often, this is more a problem of recruitment methodology than a problem of skills shortage. In order to find a candidate with leadership skills, many organisations employ contingency recruiters. This is done at no cost to the organisation, such that they send their brief out to as many recruitment agencies as possible, believing that they will really see who is in the market. This is a fallacy as contingent recruiters only use databases and advertise to a limited audience, which is not a true reflection of the real market. For instance, many contingency recruiters rely solely on social media platforms and job boards, without acknowledging that the right candidate or individual might not be active on such sites.

Of course, a recruiter can only supply what is available in the market place at any particular point in time. If a recruiter relies exclusively on social media and job boards as a tool to find a candidate with leadership skills and does not yield any suitable results, he/she will be left feeling like that candidate simply does not exist, which is not always the case. In fact, recruiters who are contingent often prioritise volume over quality, in that they are often concerned with beating other recruitment agents to the punch. Getting a CV on a client’s desk “first” is more important than successfully identifying a candidate with leadership skills. In other words, contingent recruiters do not take the time to effectively scan the marketplace, leading to a sense that there is a shortage of leadership skills. For instance, a contingent recruitment agency will tend not to research an entire market to its fullest, but rather submit a candidate who is quick to identify. This candidate might not be suitable for the role. Once the client begins to question the market (due to the unsuitable candidate presented), the contingent agency reverts to the fact that they have searched the market and that the skills are simply not available. This can lead to a false sense of the market.

As we are entering the fourth industrial revolution, we are certainly facing new challenges within the talent market, including a shortage of exceptional leaders. Indeed, many will attest to the fact that we are currently affronted by a global shortage of leadership skills. According to Dr. Mark Bussin, “We are facing the greatest leadership vacuum of all time”. Why is this? Well, there is increasingly a focus on continual innovation and ensuring profitability within organisations. This focus means that skills are constantly evolving and prerequisites from clients are becoming tighter. Too often, businesses struggle to find the talent they need on their own, turning to external search consultants to assist them.

Click here to Download Overcoming the Leadership skills Shortage eBook for a practical guide to overcoming the skills shortage in South Africa.