“The leadership instinct you are born with is the backbone. You develop
the funny bone and the wishbone that go with it."
Preparing for Tomorrow
What are the things you are doing today to prepare for tomorrow? Well, no doubt the answer is many things that support your organization’s financial growth and sustainability, operational excellence, serving (internal and external) customers well, and fostering learning, growth, and innovation.
Most of us would agree that incorporated in those critical activities are performance measurement, employee engagement, and succession planning – key drivers of long-term business success. These programs include rating employees as well as differentiating between “high performance” and “high potential.” While high-performance employees do their jobs well, high-potential employees are thought to have the skills and qualities necessary to be the organization's next generation of leaders.
Senior management seems to be waking up to the fact that leadership development is not just “a job for the HR Department,” but should appropriately fall to the operating managers. Many line managers are now directly responsible for staff planning and development; it is part of their job to recognize subordinates’ needs and to provide opportunities for professional development, learning, and growth. Managers must do this even if it means nudging their rising stars into new functional areas or units of the business.
Left on their own, some of these future stars or fast-trackers will realize their full potential. However, many up-and-comers need support. This may include gaining specific “hard” skills, e.g. operations management or finance, which can be learned in a classroom. But nurturing leadership presents a different challenge; developing the more subjective and individual abilities, in different settings and circumstances, and with different people, is a more complex matter. Here are some ideas for your own comany's check list:
Start a formal, high-level succession-planning process that includes senior executives, HR, and external experts. Outline specific activities and cascade it through the company.
Create leadership development programs that bridge gaps in your company's talent pool to ensure a deep bench for critical positions within the organization.
HR can be a great resource for development tools; and then business units themselves should own the leadership development activities.
Reshuffle rising stars throughout the company, taking care that A players are exchanged for other A players.
Make sure that your leadership development program is in sync with your strategy, reinforces your company's brand, and has support from your managers and employees.
Be sure that your Board of Directors and top management are visible and vocal in their support and commitment to leadership development.
Rather than a single, dramatic jolt, the smooth succession of business responsibilities, authorities and accountabilities should more resemble “a flow of events that occurs over time.” Like a well-run relay race, transitions can be graceful, carefully timed and orchestrated, well executed, and yes, successful.
We believe small things can make a BIG difference!