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37 Leadership Statistics: 2020/2021 Data, Trends & Predictions

by Arthur Zuckerman

In the modern work setting, how much does leadership factor in? Leadership statistics show that disruptors, such as remote work, a heightened need for open communication, and a younger workforce invested in things outside the office, have rendered some traditional mindsets obsolete. Has the leadership role changed? Moreover, what are the new challenges for managers?

Boiled down to the basics, the leader (or manager) is in charge of providing resources and support to workers, communicating objectives clearly, and encouraging them to perform their functions efficiently and productively. Business-wise, however, the leader is still expected to contribute to the bottom line. Managing those below while assuring those above (for C-Suite managers, “above” means their shareholders), is a delicate balancing act for which the manager is ultimately evaluated. Which begs the question: how much are leaders prepared and equipped for their roles?

In this article, we will discuss the different aspects of leadership, from development initiatives to employee impact. In this way, you can better understand your role as a leader as well as determine how to hone the future leaders of your company.

Leadership statistics

Leadership Profiles Statistics

What is a leader? By definition itself, leaders are at the forefront and are in charge of ensuring that the people behind them follow the directions they set. They often are seen as beneficiaries of higher education, like a business management degree, have reached middle-aged, and are more well-off than their subordinates.

  • As of 2018, there are an estimated 14.9 million Americans that occupied management positions, comprising 8.68 million men and 6.23 million women.
  • Management occupations earn an average of $97,152 annually in 2018, which is almost double the national average of $53,888. The gap is wide between males and females, as male managers average $112,747, while female managers only get $75,449.
  • The average age for a manager is 45.4 years old, with 46.2 years for the average male manager and 44.3 for the average female.
  • Ethnicity-wise, whites occupy 80.2% of all managerial positions. African Americans come in second at 7.98% while Asians hold third at 6.3%.
  • The top three most common college majors for managers are Business, Engineering, and Social Sciences, while the top three specialized majors are Construction, Business, and Agriculture.


The Leadership Gap Statistics

Like any good organization, succession plans for the next generation of leaders are critical to ensuring successful business continuity. As Gen-Xers and Millennials slowly take over the majority of workers, companies are scrambling to identify and retain potential leaders among their workforce. This is why a seeming leadership gap exists across the work landscape.

  • The 2019 Global Human Capital Trends survey reports that 805 of its respondents rated leadership as a high priority, but only 41% believe their companies are ready to fulfill their leadership requirements.
  • 10,000 Baby Boomers reach the mandatory retirement age of 65 every day. This puts pressure on millennials and Gen-X workers to fill the leadership gaps left by the boomers.
  • Millennials do feel the crunch, however, as they feel unprepared to take on new roles. 63% say they lack leadership development.
  • Many organizations have expressed dissatisfaction with their leadership preparations. 25% are confident that their company is effectively building digital leaders, but only 30% say that future leaders are trained to meet evolving challenges.
  • There is a transparency gap that 18% of survey respondents believe they have a transparent and open model; 37% worried about their ability to create trust, 60% worried about workers’ perception of transparency, and 27% believed that there is a competitive disadvantage due to a lack of transparency.
  • Even if leadership qualities for the 21st century are geared toward transparency and overcoming ambiguity, the top three leadership performance indicators remain ensconced in the 20th century: driving strategy at 63%, delivering financial results at 58%, and managing operations well at 44%.
  • Millennials are much more critical of leadership development programs than boomers, as only 40% of the former and 63% of the latter rate their companies’ programs as “Excellent.”

Effectiveness of Leadership Development Programs

Percentage of age groups that rate their current program as "Excellent"

Source: 2018 State of Leadership Development

Created by

Leadership Qualities Statistics

What are today’s most critical qualities for leaders to have? And given the disruptions in traditional office thinking, are there any new skills or talent needed by leaders to better manage their teams? It turns out that the new generations of workers believe in loftier goals for themselves and their companies other than the bottom line.

  • Transparency is a very important consideration for leaders, as this helps them champion the company’s cause. At this point, however, only 18% of respondents believed their company has a transparent and open approach, while 37% were worried about their ability to create trust.
  • In addition, 60% worry about their employees’ perception of transparency, while 27% are sure that their lack of transparency creates a competitive disadvantage.
  • Tinypulse reports that while 39% of managers strongly agree that their organization is transparent, only 22% of rank-and-file workers feel the same way.
  • A Gallup poll found out that managers account for “at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units.” This means employee motivation is often made or broken through their managers.
  • Also, only two out of five employees strongly agree that their managers have made efforts to clearly define the team’s roles and responsibilities.

The Importance of Transparency in Leadership

Common perceptions of transparency among managers

The Importance of Transparency in Leadership
Believed their company has a transparent and open approach: 18%

Believed their company has a transparent and open approach

The Importance of Transparency in Leadership
Worried about their ability to create trust: 37%

Worried about their ability to create trust

The Importance of Transparency in Leadership
Worried about their employees’s perception of transparency: 60%

Worried about their employees’s perception of transparency

The Importance of Transparency in Leadership
Knew their lack of transparency creates a competitive disadvantage: 27%

Knew their lack of transparency creates a competitive disadvantage


Source: 21st Century Leadership Challenges

Created by

Employee Perception of Leadership Statistics

Employees also have set expectations for their leaders, especially on what areas they think need leadership the most. It turns out that today’s workers have high ideals of what makes managers effective, and they are also aware of what changes are needed to keep up with modern times.

  • In a 2019 human capital survey, 81% of respondents chose the ability to “lead through more complexity and ambiguity” as a required leadership ability for 21st-century leaders.  
  • Among those who replied that the new century has unique requirements, 75% said that new technologies are what make 21st-century leadership initiatives distinct from the older generations.
  • 65% believed it was the ability to “lead through influence,” while 44% believed it was the “ability to lead more quickly.”
  • 50% said that the ability to manage on a remote basis is important, while 47% say the same for the ability to manage a workforce that utilizes both humans and machines.
  • 52% of employees who left their company believed that their manager or organization could have done something to prevent them from leaving.
  • In a Gallup 2018 survey, only 22% of teams believe that their leaders have any clear direction for their company.
  • Trust in leaders is the highest-ranked link to employee engagement at 77%. It’s even higher than traditional motivators like organizational culture (73%) or opportunities for career growth (66%).

Factors that Help Improve Employee Engagement

Factors that Help Improve Employee Engagement
Trust in Leaders: 77%

Trust in Leaders

Factors that Help Improve Employee Engagement
Relationship with Supervisor: 74%

Relationship with Supervisor

Factors that Help Improve Employee Engagement
Organizational Culture: 73%

Organizational Culture

Factors that Help Improve Employee Engagement
Belief in Organization: 67%

Belief in Organization

Factors that Help Improve Employee Engagement
Opportunities for Career Growth: 66%

Opportunities for Career Growth


Source: State of Employee Engagement 2018

Created by

Senior Management and Board Directors Statistics

Leadership goes all the way to the top. And senior managers, including the C-level ones (CEO, CFO, COO), are similarly expected to help lead the way in developing the next generation of leaders. With more diversity in the senior management pool, your average worker gets more representation.

  • In 2019, an average of 25% of the top leaders of prominent companies were women, a 2% improvement from the previous year.
  • In a survey among board directors, 84% agree that diversity enhances board performance. However, while 91% of the companies surveyed have initiated measures to increase diversity, 52% still think these efforts are merely a response to political correctness, while 48% said their shareholders might be too preoccupied with the idea.
  • Diversity is actually gaining ground, as Fortune 500 companies have shown over the years. In 2010, 83.9% of board seats were held by white males, while minority men held only 10.1%. By 2018, minority men have gained seats by 1.4%.
  • Women also saw a bump in the number of board seats, from 16.6% in 2010 to 22.5% eight years later. Minority women also got increased representation, gaining 1.4% from 3.2% to 4,6%. As of January 2019, just 24 out of the Fortune 500 companies had a female CEO.
  • As of 2019, women CEOs were outnumbered by CEOs named “James” 27 to 24.
  • 83% of respondents disclosed that their company’s C-suite executives rarely collaborate, or if they did, it was on an ad hoc basis.

Source: Diversity Jobs

Leadership Development Statistics

With the need for new leaders to replace the previous ones upon retirement, development programs are in demand to prepare future managers. While almost all companies acknowledge the need for developmental training, few agree on how to implement them, or on which areas to focus. Ideally, these programs should be carefully planned, well-executed, and features modules that people manage the modern workplace.

  • According to Mercer Metti, the average time needed to complete a leadership development program is eight months.
  • However, 31% of organizations reported that it took more than a year to actually complete their program.
  • In a Harvard 360 review in 2019, women outscored men on 17 of the 19 categories that differentiate excellent leaders from average or poor ones, including relationship building, collaboration, and communication. The only two categories where men lead were technical expertise and strategic perspective.
  • 83% of organizations acknowledge the importance of developing leaders at all levels.
  • Despite the overwhelming majority that believe leadership development is crucial for businesses, only 5% have actual leadership development training implemented at all levels.
  • 30% of organizations have difficulty creating effective leadership development programs due to a lack of involvement from senior management. In addition, 22% blamed the high cost of programs, 25% said the development program took too long, and 23% attributed it to the non-usage of leadership competency frameworks.
  • On a related note, 42% of organizations do not have the aforementioned leadership competency framework where leadership development programs can be based.
  • The top three reasons most organizations implement leadership development programs are up-skilling/cross-skilling leaders (49%), identifying high potential employees (31%), and creating a succession pipeline (20%).

Source: Leadership Development Trends 2019

Leaders Aren’t Born, They’re Made

Let’s face it, even if companies identify and utilize natural-born leaders, it would still take effort and development to make employees feel comfortable when following orders. While the belief in the organization is still valued, blind loyalty leading to questions on transparency is slowly losing its value in the workplace. Also, the growing diversity among workers requires better representation among leaders, and the increasing number of females and minorities on the board is a good sign. Leaders and developers of leaders should keep up with the times and start adapting to the ways of the modern office.



  1. Management occupations
  2. 21st century leadership challenges
  3. Bloom Leadership
  4. HR & Millennials: Insights Into Your New Human Capital
  5. 2018 State of Leadership Development: Meeting the Transformation Imperative
  6. The 2019 Employee Engagement Report
  7. 10 Gallup Reports to Share With Your Leaders in 2019
  8. How to Get People Behind a New Company Vision
  9. The State of Employee Engagement in 2018
  10. Percentage of women in C-suite roles inching up
  11. We Know Diversity is Good for Business
  12. Leadership Development Trends 2019
  13. Women Score Higher Than Men in Most Leadership Skills

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Shavonnah Roberts Schreiber January 18, 2021 - 7:19 pm

Great article. Over the last 3-5 years I have noticed a widening leadership gap. This article adds credibility to the antidotal evidence I have seen. Now the pressing question becomes, how do we change the leadership landscape?

Manish October 14, 2021 - 10:10 am

Wonderful blog! Competent leaders realise their actions and their consequences, so they carefully take actions that will help the organization to grow fast. They understand that by creating a positive environment that inspires team employees, they influence them to contribute their best. With Leadership Development Training, organizations can boost leadership qualities in their employees.


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