Only 32 percent of executives are confident they can predict whether their teams will deliver as promised, according to a new study.

The survey of more than 300 senior executives at large companies, conducted for global consultancy Gap International by Harris Interactive, highlights business leaders’ critical challenges when it comes to people and skills.

The Gap International Genius Survey also found that while most executives rank maximizing talent and empowering employees as priorities, their investments lean more toward technology.

The survey explored executives’ uncertainties around “people-focused” challenges:

  • Just 19 percent of leaders surveyed “strongly agree” that all of their employees can exceed corporate performance goals. Respondents, on average, said less than 37 percent of their employees have the potential to be top performers.
  • Only 33 percent of leaders surveyed “strongly agree” that they have established a method that helps their teams replicate success.
  • When asked which areas they will invest in to grow innovation, the most popular response was technology (67 percent), which clearly beat out areas like leadership training (43 percent) and optimizing employee performance (44 percent).
  • When asked about the importance of particular leadership challenges, 84 percent of respondents placed the highest levels of importance on maximizing talent in the organization and effectively empowering people to perform without micromanagement.

“While executives say empowering each employee to be successful is valuable, they feel challenged to actually deliver on this,” said Eric Jackson, vice president at Gap International. “In fact, two-thirds of leaders do not strongly agree they have established a method to help their team replicate success consistently.”

The survey was conducted online within the United States in September 2013 among a total of 305 senior corporate executives with revenues of $1 billion or more.

Source: Gap International