When leaders move on, it can leave a significant void that can be problematic right away and for the long term. Developing leaders from within is one of the best things you can do to ensure you don’t end up with a leadership deficiency.
Pennington, NJ (PRWEB) April 10, 2013
A recent blog in Human Resource Executive cites a number of reasons why most leadership and team development programs fail. In addition, the authors espouse the use of a whole-person approach to developing strong leaders, something supported by the team at Strategic Leadership Resources, which provides high potential leadership development and has just released its thoughts on how to develop leaders from within organizations.
“The idea of having a succession plan is often associated with company ownership, but it really applies throughout any organization,” says Andrea Zintz, Ph.D., president of Strategic Leadership Resources. “When leaders move on—retiring, getting promoted or choosing to take their talents elsewhere—it can leave a significant void that can be problematic right away and for the long term. Developing leaders from within is one of the best things you can do to ensure you don’t end up with a leadership deficiency.”
Zintz understands that a number of best practices exist with regard to internal leadership development, but they all have one thing in common: buy-in from the top is a critical component for success. In addition to saying the right things regarding the importance of “bench strength” and education/training, she notes that top leaders must continually espouse developing leaders as something that’s a highly regarded company value.
With that thought in mind, here are three best practices Zintz recommends for developing leaders within an organization:
1. Have a formal executive development program in place. This can be outsourced or run internally, and ideally it will be tiered, offering different tracks for senior managers, mid-level managers, supervisors, and even those who aspire to join the management ranks. With advances in online learning, leaders can tap into programs from wherever they’re located.
It’s best to supplement classroom training—which alone can end up being rather weak—with on-the-job experience in the form of stretch assignments and team projects that accelerate the learning process. However, collaboration and on-the-job reinforcement must remain a necessary component. Employees need to be able to put concepts and ideas they’ve been learning to work, and they’ll benefit from receiving coaching and feedback along the way.
2. Encourage leaders to teach. Education comes in many forms; it can be as simple as having a discussion at a staff meeting about the work implications of an assigned article or case study. When leaders take the time to share their knowledge, what results can be quite powerful. Serving as a mentor or coach can ramp things up even more, since that provides line-of-sight support and a place to go with questions, and it may result in career-building opportunities for the person being taken under a leader’s wing.
3. Pay attention to the makeup of the leadership team. The need for diversity aside, it’s important to create an environment of inclusion, so people feel listened to, and believe they have a path to leadership. Make sure women, people of color or those with varied cultural backgrounds haven’t inadvertently been excluded—shutting out their valuable points of view. It’s been said that diversity is being invited to the party, while inclusion is being asked to dance. When people are challenged to stretch beyond what they know, that builds leaders.
“When upper management supports these best practices, and makes sure that developing leaders from within is part of the company’s organizational values, the results will be far- reaching,” Zintz said. “Employees will understand where the company is trying to go and how they can play a role in getting it there, and those who seek to move into leadership roles will have the resources and well-defined pathways to make that happen.”
About Strategic Leadership Resources
Strategic Leadership Resources is a leadership development firm made up of professionals who know what it’s like to lead organizations. Our counsel comes from years of field experience and best practices. We offer executive coaching, leadership alignment facilitation, and mentoring programs. Although we have developed a number of unique and proprietary approaches and tools, we are not bound by any single methodology or way of working. To learn about more about SLR, visit http://www.strategicleadershipresources.com/