Successful leaders, by their very nature, are consumed with what they are doing — connecting with clients, motivating talent and inspiring those around them. In particular, enlightened leaders are in a position to create a new future for their organization by identifying the potential and developing the talent of those who could replace them.
Here are some things learning leaders should consider when putting together leadership development programs:
Stop looking for silver bullets. Developing leaders is not about looking for the next big innovation. It is about focusing on the people. Get to know workers’ potential and personal aspirations and whether they have the drive and motivation to get to where the organization needs to go.
Recognize that no leader is going to be around forever. The focus is not about you. It is about what the organization can become. The most important job of a leader is to develop individualized plans for top performers and a succession plan for the organization. Learning leaders must begin with that mindset.
Recognize potential. When hiring, don’t just consider whether someone can succeed. Equally important, consider whether the new hire can grow with time. Consider an example. Tom Gartland, a regional president at Avis Budget Group, said: “Right now, I have five assistant vice presidents who run Canada and the United States. So, if anything were to happen to any of them, I need to know what we would do. Our company’s success is based on my having a clear vision and understanding of who the next leadership team is.”
In all, to have an eye toward the future, leaders must be sure that the right people are in the right roles and that others are prepared to take over in an emergency.
Always be developing future leaders. Fulfilling the leadership pipeline is never complete. For instance, Gartland provided this example: “We had personality profiles conducted for everyone in our sales organization. That gave us a baseline view of each individual’s potential, strengths and limitations. When we match to their current performance, we are able to view them from where they are now, how we can help them meet their goals and where we see them moving next.”
Challenge high-potential individuals. People with leadership potential want to be in an organization that is committed to success. Once learning and talent leaders have recognized high-potential individuals, bring them together for an action-learning project. This process brings individuals together to solve important and urgent business problems. It also enables potential leaders to think in new ways and create trust and collaboration among teams.
Patrick Sweeney is president of Caliper Corp., a human capital management assessment and development firm. He can be reached at editor@CLOmedia.com.