We have written a number of blogs recently on the difficulties that organisations have in implementing successful leadership development strategies. The sad fact is that organisations continue to struggle with all forms of leadership development (see for example Deloitte’s ‘Survey of Human Capital Trends 2015’).
Here is a simple framework based on the work by John Adair in his book ‘How to Grow Leaders.’
- Training for leadership – soft skills, something about the company culture and aspirations, communication, handling conflict, performance management. Not technical skills which are typically learnt on the job especially for those who are promoted internally.
- Selection – if at all possible look internal. It can be much more trouble selecting leaders when selectors haven’t seen them in the day-to-day work place. By all means judge against competencies – but keep the list brief and get selectors to rate in a more consistent manner.
- Mentor – but not with someone outside the organisation or someone at the same level. Senior people in the company make excellent mentors because they have been through similar situations and can offer advise and smooth things over within the organisation.
- The chance to lead – give early responsibility and challenge. In the words of Robin Sharma ‘when we go to our limits, our limits expand’ or the old Italian proverb ‘by asking the impossible, we achieve the best possible.’
- Education for leadership – some form of formal education; ideally involving people from other organisations or walks of life.
- A strategy for leadership development – an understanding across the management of the organisation of the approach to leadership development. Review the strategy on a regular basis; for example, is this working and where can we improve? Are we seeing strong leaders coming through?
- CEO walking the talk – lead by example, stress the importance of leadership development, have time for colleagues on their development path and attend training by giving an introduction to the session. Additionally, take the opportunity to speak about leadership development at meetings or staff events.
Numbers 1, 2 and 4 tend to be the most problematic.