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Firms Seek to Improve Selection of Future Leaders

Contact:Jennifer Jones
[email protected]

NEW YORK 12/11/2013

More companies are seeking to improve the way they select future leaders for development, according to a survey of executives, managers, and employees from more than 450 organizations by AMA Enterprise, a division of American Management Association.

Thirty-nine percent of respondents reported their organization is currently seeking to make the selection of leadership candidates more systematic, and one-third said their approach is unstructured or informal. Just one-quarter of respondents claim to have a structured process in place.

How respondents characterized their effort to identify future leaders:


We are seeking to make our effort more systematic.    39%
We do so in an unstructured, informal way.               33%
We have a structured, formal process in place.          25%
Don’t know/does not apply                                        3%


“Our findings turned up a mix of satisfaction and uncertainty about processes to choose individuals who should get leadership development,” said Sandi Edwards, senior vice president for AMA Enterprise, which provides organizations with assessment, measurement, and tailored training solutions. “That one in three respondents say their company makes only an informal effort may mean the effort is arbitrary, political, or at least perceived as such, which can present its own problem. Of course, informal may work just fine for some organizations. But if our experience is any guide, informal really means there is no system—just ad hoc gathering of recommendations, often verbal.”


What are the ways your organization identifies high potentials?

(Choose as many as apply.)


Recommendations by senior managers          78%

Performance appraisals                                 73%

Special contributions made to the business     47%

Talent assessments                                        35%

Input from peers                                           34%

Educational background                                20%

Don’t know                                                   6%


According to the responses, organizations use a variety of methods to identify candidates for leadership development. Noted Edwards, “The prime considerations are usually a combination of referrals by supervisors or managers plus performance appraisals.” Overall, Edwards said, the survey showed little consensus in how organizations identify future leaders. “We didn’t anticipate disarray. Some companies do a good job; some make no effort at all…and most are just muddling along. When one considers the significance of finding future leaders or the need to target development dollars the disorder is unsettling.”

The survey was conducted from July 15 to August 3, and respondents consisted of 453 senior-level business, human resources, management professionals, and employee contacts drawn from AMA's database of contacts.

With more than 90 years’ experience and headquartered in New York, American Management Association is a global leader of comprehensive talent development. AMA Enterprise, a specialized division of AMA dedicated to building corporate and government training solutions, transforms enterprise-wide talent to fuel a culture of innovation, high performance, and optimal business results.


Media Contact: Phil Ryan, 845-339-7858, [email protected].


AMA is one of the most widely recognized leaders in business training, having provided corporate training solutions for over 95 years. From leadership, communication and managerial training to sales, customer service and analytical skills, AMA has developed a vast array of content and training solutions to help individuals and organizations achieve business results . Each year, AMA delivers thousands of seminars and courses across the United States. With courses offered in a  classroom near you or live online, AMA is a flexible, convenient resource for all of your organization's talent development needs. AMA also offers customized solutions based on your specific talent development requirements.