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Overcoming Barriers to Senior Management: Why Talent Isn’t Enough

The business case for improved management can be taken as read but how does an organisation do this without spending unaffordable amounts on management development? For the answer look to why some of your best people don’t apply for management posts.
When you think of what’s required to be a manager you think of knowledge, skills and experience but you might be surprised to learn that the most knowledgeable, skilful and experienced candidates frequently don’t get appointed. The most common reason for this is that they don’t apply! 
You may find it difficult to believe but some existing well regarded managers lack the confidence and self belief to apply for a senior management post. Others just don’t want the extra hassle and some have commitments outside of work which they feel would not allow them to do the job justice or put in the hours expected.
You may not be surprised to learn that in my experience these individuals are disproportionately women. Organisations are thus losing out on some of their most talented individuals. Worse this leaves  a gap that can be filled by over confident individuals who over estimate their abilities and demonstrate  lack of insight into how their behaviour affects others. 
Most organisations have taken steps to address this issue such as mentoring to increase an individuals confidence and self belief and help them appreciate they have transferable skills and relevant experience. Senior management post have in theory been opened up to job share opportunities so as not to exclude those with caring responsibilities, cultural changes are leading to a recognition of the need for a better work life balance which make senior management post more attractive to a broader group. Finally there is a growing recognition of the damage that a blame culture does in deterring potential candidates for managerial posts. 
In the past these efforts may have been viewed as part of the EDI strategy, an effort to get more women into senior management positions accompanied by targets. Unfortunately this tends to be aspirational ! What needs to be recognised is that the most effective way of improving an organisations performance, its agility and its future viability is to improve the quality of management. This can be done by spending a lot of money on management development or simply supporting ways which will ensure that the most talented within the organisation apply. 

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