The Leadership Skills Gap 2018

Last month many of you responded to our 2018 survey on the skills gap in the oil and gas industry. It’s not intended to be a sophisticated analysis of the whole industry, but taken together with other reviews of the industry, it highlights some key issues that face senior management and HR professionals in the business over the next few years. Results are broadly similar to previous years. The three biggest gaps lie in leadership skills, in long term strategic planning and in the ability to innovate. Full results, including some specific to HR departments, are in the 2018 Skills Gap White Paper (Click here). 

The need for technological innovation has been picked up by other commentators, who highlight the changing nature of the skills needed for the energy industry of the future. HR professionals list their two biggest challenges as developing leadership skills in managers with purely functional or technical expertise, and recruiting and developing staff with very specific technical skills – especially in the digital, Big Data and AI disciplines.

Over the years respondents have consistently mentioned a lack of long term strategic planning and decision making skills in the industry. Individuals often mention this as a key training requirement when looking to develop their careers beyond a technical function. We explore this topic in more detail in the Skills Gap paper, picking up on the issues raised in our earlier newsletters on Leadership and Emotional Intelligence.

Long-term Strategic Planning & Decision-Making

Broadly speaking, there are three sets of skills needed for strategic planning and decision-making, and they combine both hard skills and soft skills.

First, there are the analytical skills: gathering data about the geopolitical, economic and business environment the firm is operating in. But this data is likely to be incomplete or ambiguous so there’s a need for skill in interpreting the data, making connections and identifying trends and patterns. The process then calls for skills that lie more in “emotional intelligence” – courage, resilience, to create a vision, take calculated risks and make decisions even when the future is uncertain. And finally, as part of the implementation phase of strategic decision-making, communication skills come in play as leaders need to describe their vision and inspire and motivate teams – in different functions, countries, and cultures – to achieve a common goal.

These topics will be covered in our forthcoming Leadership in Energy course, running in London in June. Please email if you are interested in booking a place.



  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the excellent report which I’m forwarding to my two sons one of whom manages a media company and the other head of department in an academy since the principles outlined will apply equally. However as I read your survey I reflected on the practical application of those principles as observed by my own experience working for a major O&G company then as a consultant, from scientist to senior management. In none of those roles for e.g did HR ever play an informed and constructive role other than the administration of recruitment and employee processes and training in conformity with company policies. Hierarchy was endemic stifling initiative and resulting in a workforce which saw progression resulting from compliance rather than dynamism/initiative/risk taking and results. I suspect this situation is widespread and still very much the case for e.g in the health service where we have some hands on experience at various levels. Your principles are absolutely valid entry points to the workforce but must be practiced and supported throughout employment not just buzz words on the CV. To my mind essential aspects of employment as well as skill sets are; individual responsibility and reasonable expectation, intra and inter level communication, delegation (with responsibility and accountability), and recognition. In conclusion your report highlights skill sets but these will only be of value if applied in the framework of effective employment.

  2. I’m highly grateful on this topic that talks on crucial areas that we need to understand.

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