5 Keys to Building Leaders for the Future

“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” – Tom Peters

It seems like every time we open an annual survey about the state of organizational development we see the same trends or headlines: disappointing news about the state of leadership. And, that is not surprising, nor is it new.Take our short, 2 minute survey and give us your opinion. Despite billions of dollars being spent to develop leaders, companies are still frustrated with the leadership capability of their future talent. Our work with several clients over the past decade has shown similar areas of concern:

  • Leaders in the pipeline are not ready to lead at the next level
  • Leaders do not know how to develop their talent
  • Leaders lack coaching ability
  • Leaders who don’t seek, give or receive feedback
  • Companies who emphasize results at the expense of people produce cultures of burnout and low engagement levels

Case in point: We were recently brought in to help a company increase the coaching ability of their mid and senior level leaders. At one of the coaching practice sessions, one of the leaders told us he didn’t really believe much in coaching because asking his people “what do they think” was not going to produce any earth shattering pieces of wisdom. In his opinion, he knew everything that anyone could serve up to him. He simply could not learn one thing from his direct reports that he didn’t already know! Needless to say, this guy is certainly going to have an affect on his talent’s development down the road!

Deloitte recently released their Global Human Capital Trends 2015 report that shows “areas such as culture and engagement, leadership, and development have become urgent priorities.” And, when looking at the report results in details, it shows the gap widening between what respondents listed as important and their feelings of readiness to face those issues. For instance, most people responded “important” or “very important to the issue of Learning and Development (up 3x from last year), but only 40% of respondents feel ready to face that issue which is down from 75% last year.

“In the end, it is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” Max de Pree

So what should organizations do to develop their talent and improve their bench capacity?

5 Keys to Building the Leadership Pipeline

  1. Identify the level of leader you want to focus on—some organizations start with the entry level; managers or emerging leader, some start at the top with the senior leader ranks. Determining the level of leader can help build your content strategy. 
  2. Build the coaching capacity of ALL leaders in the company—this is the skill that all leaders need: the ability to develop people and help mitigate difficult conversations. Our work with hundreds of leaders shows us that although people think they know how to coach, they rarely know how to coach well. Build content that encourages regular practice of this imperative skill set. 
  3. Model feedback for everyone—make the case for seeking, giving and receiving feedback at all levels in the organization. Make it safe for people to leave feedback sessions with hope for future success. 
  4. Tie enhancement of leadership to results by creating case studies and tracking specific metrics like: retention, sales increases, productivity or engagement levels. 
  5. Create senior leadership ownership of the program by involving them through opportunities to teach the material, kick-off the programs, and modeling the skills. 

So how satisfied are you with your current leadership development efforts? How would you rate your company’s efforts to build future leaders? Take our quick 2 minute survey to let us know about your efforts to build future leaders. We’ll post the results in the next few weeks.