Sustainability leaves senior professionals feeling ‘green’ about future leaders

| 25 November 2021
  • 82% of senior professionals are concerned about the green credentials of future business leaders
  • Doubts also exist about the ‘digital prowess’ of tomorrow’s business leaders
  • A third of today’s business leaders are focused on working with education providers and Government to improve future leadership skills
  • One in six senior professionals have no dedicated strategy for addressing leadership skills shortages
  • Eight in ten (82%) senior professionals are concerned that the next generation of business leaders don’t have the green credentials to build sustainable companies.

This is according to new research from leadership consulting & talent solutions provider New Street Consulting Group (NSCG) and comes amidst growing ‘eco-anxiety’ about climate change.

The survey of 1,000 senior level professionals found that doubts about the green credentials of future leaders ranked as their top concern, alongside reservations about digital prowess. 82% of existing leaders don’t believe the next generation has the right skills to drive digital transformation and properly embrace technological change.

Graham Atkins, Managing Partner at NSCG, said: “At first glance, it can seem surprising that sustainability and digital – two areas so synonymous with younger generations – are the biggest concerns about future business leaders. These are topics that tomorrow’s leaders are extremely passionate about, hugely interested in and motivated by.

“It’s becoming increasingly clear that future leaders will need to have green credentials even if they are not in a sustainability focused role. The issue of climate change has been elevated and accelerated, so it is an expectation that every executive role can demonstrate green credentials as it needs to be embedded throughout an organisation. But the real question for organisations is – how can you recruit and develop people in a way that nurtures these skills?”

Data from the research also showed that 81% of senior professionals are concerned about the soft skills of future leaders, such as communication and problem solving. 79% have reservations about the hard skills of future leaders including educational attainment and technical ability, while 78% are concerned that the next generation of leadership will not have the ability to create inclusive working cultures.

To support the development of future leaders, a third (33%) of senior professionals are working closely with education providers to develop leadership talent. A similar number (32%) are focused on partnering with the Government to address leadership skills shortages, while 30% are taking a company or industry-led approach to improving skills through business and sector-specific leadership development programmes.

Graham Atkins concluded: “Although there’s widespread concern about the capabilities of future leaders and some effort in developing leadership skills, today’s leaders aren’t doing enough to futureproof their organisations.

“The research highlighted that one in six (17%) senior professionals still don’t have a dedicated strategy for tackling leadership skills shortages in their organisation. This doesn’t tally with the much higher level of concern that exists around sustainability and digital, and leaders must consider why Boards aren’t acting faster.

“There’s rapid advances in sustainability and digital, and the rate of change will only get quicker. It’s business critical that leadership skills evolve to ensure strategies and decision-making remain in keeping with what matters to target markets.”

About the research: A survey was completed by OnePoll on behalf of NSCG in October 2021. This sampled 1,000 senior level (Director and above) professionals working in the UK.


Graham Atkins is the managing partner of our talent consulting division. At NSCG, we can help you accelerate the leadership skills in your organisation. To find out more, please get in touch

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