Within the past two weeks, the Institute for Corporate
Productivity (i4cp) received several inquiries to its Expert Member Network
asking about what other organizations are doing regarding leadership
development and succession planning during this time of the COVID-19
coronavirus pandemic. An i4cp pulse survey on these topics conducted earlier
this week brought back a range of interesting answers, including less than 10%
of respondents indicating there hasn’t been any impact in these areas at all. A
lot is already changing, and there will be more change to come.
Regarding leadership development programs, almost everyone
indicated there had been at least some impact, with the most common being
either the rescheduling / delay of programs (70%) or the conversion of some
programs to virtual delivery (73%). Only 30% of respondents indicated their
organization had cancelled some leadership development programs, with 60%
noting that they are encouraging leaders that have time available to leverage
self-paced e-Learning and other leadership development content where
But COVID-19 is doing more than impacting the logistical side
of leadership development and training. Several survey participants noted that
they are changing the competencies included in their leadership models, and
therefore the topics included in their development programs. One gave
specifics, noting they are adding crisis management, digital adroitness,
virtual leadership, and leading in difficult times to their leadership core
The design of some leadership development programs is also
being adjusted. Several participants noted that the COVID-19 pandemic period
has provide fresh examples of leadership agility and adaptability, and other
good stories, that they can build into their formal training programs. Some are
also getting creative and thinking differently about how to structure the
programs, such as “having smaller cohorts that are focused on peer learning and
coaching with access to executives virtually, versus traveling to an office for
an action learning experience.”
The succession planning / management processes at
organizations have also been variously impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with
40% of respondents indicating that talent reviews are continuing but being
conducted virtually, and 33% indicating that such meetings are being delayed or
rescheduled. Some respondents indicated they are staying focused on key
evolutions they had planned such as succession plan gap closure, succession
plan diversity, increased transparency, increased future-focus, and building
functional and individual development plans. But others indicated that any process
changes have been put on hold, with only critical positions being considered
during this crisis time period. One respondent said their organization is using
this time to carefully consider how work should and will be redesigned, and
what impact that will have on roles, org structures, and ultimately where
talent gaps—including leadership gaps—might exist.
The survey concluding by asking what impact the COVID-19
pandemic will have the organization’s overall talent risk for current leaders.
Here the results were mixed, with 10% indicating talent risk for leaders would
significantly increase versus only 6% indicating it would significantly
decrease. The results for those who see less extreme changes were flipped, with
17% indicating talent risk would increase somewhat, but 26% indicating it would
decrease somewhat. Another 29% indicated they don’t yet see a change in talent
risk for leaders arising from the COVID-19 pandemic period, and 11% weren’t
Key findings recap:
- Only 4% of those surveyed said COVID-19 has not any
impact on their organization’s leadership development programs, with only 7%
saying the same for their succession planning / management process.
- 70% said that leadership development programs
have been rescheduled or delayed, 73% said that at least some programs have
been delivered virtually, and 60% said they are encouraging leaders to leverage
self-paced e-Learning programs where applicable.
indicated that talent reviews that are part of the organization’s succession
planning / management process are continuing but being conducted virtually,
with 33% saying such meetings are being delayed or rescheduled.
- While 27% said that talent risk for current leaders at
their organization would increase somewhat or significantly due to the COVID-19
pandemic, even more (32%) said it would decrease somewhat or significantly.
Download the full survey results—due to the
current global health and productivity crisis affecting everyone, i4cp is
making all related ongoing research publicly available.
We also encourage you to visit i4cp.com/coronavirus for
other employer resources including discussion forums, next practices, useful
resources, and more.