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The market for executive leadership training in Asia is booming

Corporate bosses need leadership training, either because they’re not good enough or because they’re highly talented. Almost four in ten companies worldwide are investing more in growth programs for leaders, often to keep their best talent and help them move up in the organization.

Some though may also need remedial training: Some 40% of leaders worldwide are not prepared or barely ready to take on business challenges coming at them within two years, a new report from The Conference Board and Right Management indicates.

The bigger leadership development budgets show up especially in Asia, where 46% of the companies surveyed plan to spend more, compared to 37% of North American-based companies. Only 34% of Europe’s companies will grow leadership training budgets. Almost half of companies with $5-$20 billion in revenues expect to increase spending in this area in the next 12 months, according to the report. The higher spending grows from a few trends: a shortage of CEOs and general managers and a desire to promote from within, a need to manage faster and better and the hope that bestowing a coach or training may encourage loyalty or talent retention.

So what are companies hoping to teach your boss’s boss? The three most important leadership skills in the next five years are  leading change, a global mindset and retaining and developing talent (maybe that means you). Yet especially at North American companies, a global mindset does not show up among the five skills that are currently being taught, leading the authors to note a disconnect between current programs and expected needs.

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Almost half the companies expect to spend more on executive coaches, with coaching most popular in the US. Companies use coaches to  groom the next generation of C-level candidates.

“A lot of leaders are needing a coach both as a skill supplement and also a sounding board to work through the complexity around that process of succession,” said  Douglas W. Jack, Five O’Clock Club and business /leadership coach  who has worked in Japan, Russia and elsewhere

Leadership development has become big business. In the US alone, employers spent $13.6 billion on leadership development last year.

In Asia, companies are more likely to choose utilize active learning—business simulations or group exercises to solve business challenges. That was considered the most effective and impactful leadership development tool, followed by coaching or mentoring. International assignments were considered useful by Asian and European companies at developing leadership, less so by North American execs. Executive education at universities and social learning were seen to have the lowest impact.

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Follow writer-entrepreneur Vickie Elmer on Twitter @WorkingKind.  We welcome your comments at ideas@qz.com.

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