The good news is that approximately 86% of business leaders agree an organization’s future success greatly depends on the development of their rising leaders (2014 study by Deloitte). The bad news is that only 30% of senior managers report feeling very confident that their talent management efforts pay off, and 13%, have confidence in the strength of their leadership pipeline (Right Management, “Talent Management” study).
Building High Potential Leadership programs has become a strong passion of mine. Although the basic leadership skills are somewhat the same across organizations, the focus areas for development vary greatly. I came across an article by Harrison Monarth, published by Harvard Business Review, that recommends using a back-end approach to leadership development.
Creating strategies for the next 5-10 years are a thing of the past. Timing is critical. Think about where your company is headed in the next year and start with the end in mind. For example, are you going through a merger, experiencing growth, creating new products, expanding internationally? First consider the desired goals or strategy of the organization, then work backwards to determine the critical qualities needed from your leaders to help you get there.
Most companies make the mistake of creating laundry lists of vague competencies that they expect in their leaders (that could “plug and play” into any company) and then identify the “high potentials” as the people who effectively display the majority of these behaviors. Instead of letting the competencies lead the way, let your business strategy lead the way. In other words, first clearly articulate your business strategy, then identify what competencies will be essential from your leaders over the next year. As you develop leaders (through mentoring, coaching, training, etc.), you will know what areas to focus on developing. Though you may identify leaders that will help during this time, as the organization strategy changes, you might select a different set of leaders in the organization or develop them in a more targeted way. Now, that makes for a truly flexible, adaptable organization.
How well does do your talent development programs align to your business strategy? Where is your business headed and who do you need to help you get there?