Great leaders know that planning is an indispensable process that can improve their organisation’s growth and sustainability. This is why many companies devote so much time and resources to developing plans for every major component of their business.
Your business plans shouldn’t end with corporate budgets, sales projections, hiring policies and marketing practices. According to research conducted by Development Dimensions International (DDI) and reported in their Global Leadership Forecast 2014|2015 over 14,000 business leaders and HR professionals were surveyed and fewer than 15% reported that there companies have a “strong bench” of candidates to fill leadership roles in their organisation.
The same research found that the number one challenge facing leaders today is learning how to attract, recruit, develop and retain top people as well as inspiring them to become and remain engaged in the workplace. To overcome this obstacle, the study found that a greater focus is needed to develop and “improve leadership development programs, enhance the effectiveness of senior management teams, improve the effectiveness of frontline supervisors and managers, and improve succession planning.”
Based on these statistics, it’s readily apparent that developing an effective leadership strategy is just as critical to your company’s performance and long term success as any other business plan!
Building Your Leadership Pipeline
At some point, the current leaders of your company will leave. While some will retire, others will move on to new opportunities so you must take steps to plan for the succession of leaders at every level of your organisation. As a driver of change in your company, it’s imperative that you create a leadership strategy that will increase the depth and diversity of your pool of potential leaders. To be effective, your leadership strategy should include, at a bare minimum, a plan to identify individuals with leadership potential.
Today’s workforce needs leaders that can facilitate trust, co-operation, collaboration and creativity. So, when your organisation begins its search for leadership candidates, as much attention should be given to individual personality traits as is given to individual skillsets, experience and background. An emphasis should also be placed on finding candidates with high degrees of emotional and social intelligence as well as integrity and creativity.
Once candidates are identified for potential leadership roles, you can strengthen their skill development by providing additional training, and offering new assignments of increasing responsibility. As each candidate grows in their ability, your organisation can prepare them for greater leadership roles by pairing them with mentors and coaches.
Mentors and coaches are a cornerstone of any effective leadership development strategy because they are invaluable to leaders at all stages of their career. These specialists help leaders by offering practical advice and guidance that help leaders to acquire the traits and skills that they need while also challenging leaders to continue to push towards excellence in multiple areas.
In addition to providing opportunities to identify a greater number of individuals with leadership potential, an effective leadership strategy will include plans to increase the diversity of both your workforce and the individuals that lead them. Your leadership strategy should include a plan for auditing your company processes to identify and eliminate areas of gender and ethnic bias that might hold back potential leaders is imperative to increase fairness and balance in your organisation.
You can encourage leadership diversity by seeking to eliminate practices and policies that “hide” potential leaders due to the lack of visibility in specific roles, cut potential leaders out of the loop of communication channels, or that create unfair conflicts in work/life balance that might be resolved with greater flexibility in scheduling and commitments.
How deep is your organisation’s bench? Do you have all the people that you need to fill key “linchpin” roles in your company? Do your current leaders have what it takes to be effective in their current as well as future roles and move from “good enough” to great? If your answer is “no,” or “not quite,” why not get in touch today, and let us help you improve your leadership strategy?
About Sonia McDonald
Sonia McDonald, CEO and Founder of LeadershipHQ, is an Entrepreneur, Thought Leader, Dynamic Keynote Speaker, Leadership Coach and Author of Leadership Attitude (now on BOOKTOPIA!). She was recently named in the Top 250 Influential Women Leaders across the Globe. Sonia is one of Australia’s Leading Executive Coaches. She has over 25 years’ human resource management, leadership and organisational development experience. She has held senior leadership roles in organisational development, learning and development, human resources and talent management fields across the globe. She is also an inspirational and dynamic leadership and neuroscience keynote speaker.
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