An increasing number of employers in the UK are struggling to solve some of their most difficult problems because they are failing to identify and empower leaders within their business, according to research from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

PwC’s new study, The Hidden Talent: Ten Ways to Identify and Retain Transformational Leaders, highlights that just one in ten employers have the attributes, capabilities and mindsets to lead transformational change while also solving wicked problems.

Attracting and retaining leadership talent

Jessica Leitch, a consultant at PwC People and Organisation Team, said the difference between “tame” problems and wicked ones is that the latter directly challenge the normal thinking process behind the business and “even the business model itself”.

The research looked at the leadership capabilities of 6,000 European professionals with the use of psychometric specialists from Harthill Consulting, and found that only 8% of professionals currently have strategist leadership abilities.

PwC highlighted that there are four ways in which young professionals develop leadership capabilities:

  1. Strategists – 8% – will work to create organisational and personal transformation and are often shaped by the different experiences of their peers and will see things differently to conventional leaders. These individuals are more often than not recent graduates and from the millennial generation.
  2. Individualists – 33% – will work to interweave both personal and company logic in order to bridge the gap between strategy and performance.
  3. Achievers – 52% – will juggle management duties and market demands simultaneously.
  4. Experts – 7% – will rule by expertise and logic and in turn will seek rational efficiency.

David Lancefield, PwC Partner, Strategy and Economics, said strategist leaders can fill “the aspiration gap CEOs refer to when it comes to transformation” however, attracting and retaining these individuals will require a complete “overhaul”.

“Businesses must work hard to attract and retain strategists because they hold the keys to transformation and, in some cases, survival,” he added.

If you are an employer looking for leadership qualities in recent graduates, speak to Discovery Graduates today who can help with all stages of graduate recruitment, development and retention.