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New Bersin & Associates Research Shows that Organizations with High-Impact Leadership Development Strategies Build a Different Breed of Leader and Generate Seven Times Greater Business Impact

Part One of New Leadership Development Practice Study Identifies Critical Trends that Drive 21st Century Business Goals

Oakland, CA – July 14, 2011 – Bersin & Associates, the premier research and consulting firm empowering HR organizations to drive bottom-line impact, today announced new research that shows organizations with high-impact leadership development programs are developing a new kind of leader, and are seven times more effective at delivering improved business and talent results than organizations with less sophisticated leadership development functions.

The research findings are included in Bersin & Associates’ new study, High-Impact Leadership Development for the 21st Century. The study is based on surveys and interviews with more than 300 leadership development and learning development managers around the world, and will be released in three parts. This comprehensive study is a foundational piece of research in Bersin & Associates’ new Leadership Development Practice, offering benchmarks, tools, case studies, operational frameworks, and proven service models that define best-practice leadership development. [See today’s related announcement, "Bersin & Associates Launches Groundbreaking Leadership Development Practice"]

“High performing organizations that continuously invest in leadership development are now defining new 21st century leadership models to deal with today’s gaps in their leadership pipelines and the new global business environment,” said Josh Bersin, chief executive officer and president, Bersin & Associates. “These people-focused organizations have generated nearly 60 percent improved business growth, reported a 66 percent improvement in bench strength, and showed a 62 percent improvement in employee retention. And our research shows that it is not enough to just spend money on leadership training, but rather to follow specific practices that drive accelerated business results.”

Bersin & Associates has been studying leadership development for more than 8 years and has validated the industry’s first Leadership Development Maturity Model®, an easy-to-follow framework that identifies the process of building a high-impact program. This new three-part research series updates the model and related findings, originally published in 2007. The first part of the three-part series, published today, identifies critical trends that currently drive leadership development and are shaping a new breed of leader – trends that high-impact organizations should be prepared to address to remain competitive in the 21st century. These include a need for leaders to be:

  • Globally savvy: High-impact leaders must be fluent in doing business internationally with multicultural societies and must look beyond their immediate geography to solve business problems.
  • Technologically astute: Given the pace of change and the expectation that leaders guide geographically and virtually dispersed units and teams, technological savvy is now an integral element of today’s leadership effectiveness.
  • Agile, Open, and Innovative: Traditional leadership competencies (integrity, visioning, judgment, people development) still matter, but are evolving to focus on competencies such as innovation, agility and flexibility, and the ability to manage diverse workforces.

For example, UnitedHealth Group (UHG) interviewed senior executives, functional leaders and business unit heads to identify the skills and behaviors necessary for success at all leadership levels across the enterprise in the 21st century. Creating a comprehensive leadership competency model enabled the UHG team to clearly prioritize and align their leadership development programs and processes to support critical leadership success factors, such as supporting change and innovation. The implementation of leadership development programs aligned with the new competency model resulted in improved promotion rates, employee engagement scores and performance scores at UHG.

Bersin & Associates plans to publish the final two reports in its new Leadership Development series in August. Part two will look at the business impact of sophisticated leadership development practices and programs, and part three will examine how organizations that excel at leadership development leverage six best practices that Bersin & Associates identified four years ago, such as maintaining strong top-level executive involvement and using tailored leadership competencies.

“Leadership development is not just about developing leaders – it is about creating a culture of accountability and performance,” said Barb Arth, senior analyst, leadership development and succession management for Bersin & Associates. “Leadership development creates a magnet for top talent and fosters improved business results. This is why the organizations that are ‘built to last’ have strong histories of leadership development.”

To download a complimentary copy of the Executive Summary of High-Impact Leadership Development for the 21st Century: go to

The first report, High-Impact Leadership Development for the 21st Century: Key Findings, Trends and Analytics, is available today for $395 for a PDF and $545 for a print copy. The full Bersin & Associates study to include all three reports, High-Impact Leadership Development for the 21st Century will be available in late August for $1,095 for a PDF and $1,245 in print. For more details, go to

Those interested in learning more about Bersin & Associates and its WhatWorks® membership may email or call (510) 251-4400.

For media queries, email or call (510) 251-4406.

About Bersin & Associates

Bersin & Associates empowers HR and learning organizations to drive bottom-line impact through world-class research and consulting. The company's WhatWorks® membership gives human resources, learning, and talent acquisition professionals the information and tools they need to drive change in their organizations as strategic business partners.

Bersin & Associates members use our insights and tools to benchmark themselves against best practices, design and implement programs across the HR and learning spectrum and select and implement systems. More than 5,000 organizations worldwide, including more than half of the Fortune 100, use Bersin & Associates research and consulting to guide their learning, talent, and human resources strategies.