Term Paper: Future Management Trends Specifically Trends in Executive Development

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Future Management Trends -- Specifically Trends in Executive Development

Training and forming executives, at all levels of the company and no matter what the size of the organization, is essential in today's continuously competitive marketing environment, where different challenges are appearing to determine the way the company will evolve. Why? The answer is quite simple: because executives in the company determine the general vision and the trend that the organization will follow (senior executives), the strategic and tactical plans that will ensure that those objectives are reached and the actual means by which that can be done. Executive development ensures leadership in a corporation and leadership ensures the success the company will have in the marketplace.

For a long period of time in the past, leadership was often equivalent to a patriarchal figure, often founder of the company, who transmitted his knowledge to the people in the hierarchy and passed on leadership to the new executives of the corporation. Examples can range from Henry Ford to Sam Walton and to Thomas Watson Sr. At IBM. Executive development was not regulated in any way within the organization and it generally meant that the leader and founder taught the younger executives the leadership trade.

At the same time, senior executives played a "directive role in shaping management training and development programs," as theoreticians pointed out in an article published in the Harvard Business Review in 1985. The reason for this was quite clear, with the senior executives and leaders implicating themselves at all levels of the company, including in what meant forming the new generations of executives through training and development programs.

In time, all that has changed and executive development was transformed into an entire set of training sessions, HR seminars, participations in conferences and lectures, all aimed at producing a leader that would be able to face the challenges of today's business environment. Indeed, in the present, a leader/executive is expected not only to know all the details of the trade he will be running, but he is also expected to be a good psychologists and know how to work with people, to anticipate and participate to the reactions of the market, to develop a mean to be able to be comfortable working in a diversified cultural global environment as the one we are currently operating in (and that goes as far as knowing more than one foreign language and having good communications skills etc.).

One of the keys of executive development in the present is the network and the highly networked system that the executive is operating in. According to sources, some 20 years ago, "70% of a leader's development was derived via on-the-job experience, 20% through relationships, and 10% by structured education programs." The proportion has significantly changed in the present, so that the Center for Creative Leadership claims that nowadays the proportion previously mentioned has changed considerably.

There are several reasons for this. We can mention first of all that the global business environment is moving at a significantly high rate, much faster than in the past, and executives find it much more difficult to wait the amount of time necessary, picking many things on the way. Another important issue to be considered is that today's society at the workplace is much more interconnected than in the past, because of the Internet, instant messaging, emailing etc. which means that the social component is likely to manifest itself much more strongly and, additionally, that the social component is likely to have a much more important role.

Some theoreticians go as far as to consider the social/networking component as the most important of the three. In this sense, the Sloan Management Review points out that "what really distinguishes high performers from the rest of the pack is their ability to maintain and leverage personal networks. The most effective create and tap large, diversified networks that are rich in experience and span all organizational boundaries."

The point made here is that executive development often means learning from the other people that operate within the organization or from persons outside the organization and developing through a large range of contacts at all levels, contacts that will be able to improve the future leader's view on both the business and his role within the company, as well as to trace the path he will need to follow in order to successfully fulfil the obligations of his position (it is important to note that we are referring to executive development at all levels within the company, not necessarily only at senior level).

The present of executive development is currently facing an important challenge after the collapse of some of the companies that had been extraordinarily profitable in the past. With the failure of companies such as Enron or WorldCom, people were bound to ask whether the problem resided with the ineffectiveness of the respective leaders that led the companies into collapse. If we look at these particular examples, however, it is my opinion that we are rather referring to an ethical issue than the actual capacity of the leaders. Ken Lay had successfully run Enron ever since the 1980s during which time the company had also experienced periods of extreme profitability. Examples as that on can continue. On the other hand, we have examples of executives who were not able to adapt to the new realities of the 21st century and the novelties it brought about.

How can we characterize the future of the executive development processes and what is the likely trend going to be? First of all, many sources have been extremely sceptical as to the future of executive development and the quality of executives in the future period of time. According to a 2004 Executive Development Associates' Trends Survey, more than 70% of 101 senior-level learning and executive development professionals in Global 500 corporations said that the main challenge they were facing was "the lack of bench strength," with direct reference to the managerial challenges they were likely to face because of the lack of proper executive strength within the organization. Given the fact that the next cause ("increased competition") was rated at 53%, it is clear that present day professionals are no too confident about future executive and executive development.

The same resource has also described one of the main trends of future executive development: integration. This means the integration of all activities relating to executive and leadership development, including "executive education, succession planning, developmental job experiences, the identification and development of emerging leaders."

Obviously, we can see the need for such an approach. Until now, everything in terms of executive development has been done in a program - based form, with different programs operating at different levels in formatting and forming the future executives within the organization. An integrated approach means integrated planning, integrated organization of the entire executive and leadership development process and an integrated control and supervision of the way these programs are functioning together and the results they are producing. Integration also means addressing the problems as they appear as a whole.

On the other hand, integration poses a lot of threats and difficulties for the organizations. The main difficulty probably revolves around the fact that no such integrated system exists yet and it all needs to be created starting from zero. Indeed, the survey also showed that only 40% already had a well-integrated talent management system, while only 41% boasted an "effective process for placing the "right executive in the right job at the right time." As the article justly pointed out, at the present there is quite a significant gap between "future need and current capacity," between what the company will need to realize in the future in terms of executive development and what its current capacities are. Building an integrated apparatus for executive development in the company will mean time and significant costs and in today's fast moving business environment, many companies find out that they just cannot afford this luxury.

One final aspect we need to look briefly into when referring to future trends in executive development is the fact that all corporations will need to make sure that it has recruited, created and trained enough leaders for the future and this will certainly lead for an entire competition for potential future leaders. This competition for potential leaders will in fact be part of the larger competition for resources that will characterize the future of the global economy. This means that the executive development programs need to find the proper base in the prospected leaders and this means a good selection from the very beginning, perhaps in the same integration scheme previously mentioned.

As a conclusion, we have to point out that executive development is one of the growing concerns that the organizations are likely to face in the future. Some of the reasons for this include a highly competitive business environment needing for clear and visionary decision, a highly diverse cultural environment and the necessity to easily communicate and adapt.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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