Leadership development must have an aim or end-goal. It cannot be just another initiative designed by “upper management” as a means of checking things off the “to-do list”. Most organizational leaders determine the need for developing other leaders after having looked further down “the bench” to assess the next level (or wave, or “generation”) of leaders at their disposal.
Daniel Tobin has a great article in the most recent edition Talent Management Magazine where he extolls the importance of leadership development as an aspect of succession planning in organizations of all sizes. In his article “Next Generation Leaders: Small, Medium, and Large”, Tobin provides what he describes as a “proven model” for leadership development in small-to-mid-sized organizations (formal education sessions, action learning projects, individual development plans, & mentoring and coaching).
Tobin also shares his “10 Commandments for Leadership Development”:
1. LDP participants will develop the leadership skills, business acumen and execution skills they need for future leadership roles in the company. The entire budget for the LDP typically will be less than the cost of one poor promotional decision.
2. A well-designed internal LDP will expand the company’s talent pool for succession planning. The organization will have a ready supply of well prepared candidates to fill slots for retirees or other senior executive attrition.
3. The company will retain some top talent that it might otherwise have lost. Employees who see the company is investing in their future are more likely to stay.
4. Action learning projects used in the LDP will solve long-standing company challenges because they will focus on issues that never became so urgent that resources were assigned to solve them.
5. Top talent will be more visible to company executives. Most executives have a limited view of the company’s talent — typically a line of sight that extends no more than two levels below them in their own lines of business. Through the LDP, executives will get to view talent from all business units, functional areas and geographies.
6. LDP participants will improve their on-the-job performance. The skills that are taught in the LDP education sessions can be applied immediately to participants’ current roles.
7. Leaders will weed out high potentials who fail to perform in the LDP. It is much better to discover fatal flaws in high potentials before rather than after they are promoted.
8. Through the many roles they will play while teaching, endorsing and otherwise participating in the LDP, company executives will feel more connected to the front lines of the business.
9. LDP participants will start building their personal networks and will learn to trust their fellow participants, resulting in better communications and working relationships across business unit and functional borders, and they will have these networks established when they get promoted in the future.
10. The final test of the LDP’s success will be whether senior executives, having participated in and seen the results from the first LDP, want to run the program again for another group of high potentials.
As a side note – Dr. Marshall Goldsmith’s article “What Is Your Reputation?” in the same issue of TM Magazine reinforces the concept of reputational power and the influence (and impact) of personal branding…hmm…sounds familiar.