Where would the Enterprise be without Captain Kirk? How would Frodo's quest have gone without Gandalf's protection and mentoring? Any organisation, whether it's flying through space, or trying to stop a supernatural sociopath from ruling the world, needs strong leadership.
To meet current and future challenges, organisations must focus on growing their leadership of tomorrow.
The question is, what do world-class internal development programmes look like and how does an organisation establish one?
The skill requirements of effective leadership
There are 5 key areas that leaders must have capability in to be successful.
- They must have strong business partnering skills that enable them to build relationships with other functions.
- They must be able to build and inspire teams.
- They must drive value for the business by providing actionable insights.
- They must create efficiency in the function.
- They must ensure that risk is managed and the appropriate controls are in place.
Ensure the purpose of the development programme is linked to the strategic goals and operational challenges of the organisation.
Map the roles
For any role, it's critical to identify the factors necessary for success. And while we've stated the 5 overarching qualities that lend themselves to great leadership, individual roles have specific skill requirements.
Start by defining the core capabilities required for success. Assign a 'competent', 'advanced', or 'expert' designation to each core capability. Consider not only technical skills, but soft skills as well. Leaders need to be able to inspire and therefore must be strong communicators with an ability to understand people's individual drivers. This will not only help them to understand their team, but also build strong cross-functional relationships.
Identify potential leaders
Examine the strengths and weaknesses of each current employee relative to future leadership opportunities.
Use a variety of tools to evaluate employee performance, including self-assessment.
Establish regular one-on-one meetings to discuss career goals and desired professional development opportunities.
Regardless of age, people need to be motivated to learn. Motivation is enhanced by making employees aware of:
- How the development programme will bridge the gap between their weaknesses and progression through the company
- The coaching and mentoring opportunities the programme offers
- The quality learning solutions that are in place - offer a mix of self-directed possibilities and guided support, including webinars and e-learning modules
- The access they will have to top leaders - guest speakers
- Opportunities to practice what has been learned
- For a programme to be successful it must have the support of the chief executive and his or her direct reports
- Establish a network of people to help roll out the programme - ideally including key people who are passionate about learning and who have influence
- Run the programme as a pilot initially to work out all the small pitfalls before going companywide
- Learning solutions must be easily accessible and offer both self-directed and a more traditional classroom model
- Training should be offered in short bursts to avoid overloading employees
- Line managers need to support their employees to ensure they are prepared for the training and have an opportunity to embed the learning in their daily role
- Have patience – it may take a while for employees to embrace the new programme, especially if it requires a cultural shift
- Opportunities to practice what has been learned helps retention of information
- Allowing employees to lead a session can position the employee as a leader in the eyes of the team and help bridge the gap should that employee get promoted at a later date
Strong leadership not only protects the interests of the organisation, but can help a company attract, land and retain top talent.
Cultivating your leaders of tomorrow is critical to ensuring future success, so building a professional development programme that helps employees identify and address their weaknesses, while further developing their strengths makes sense.