With Baby Boomers on the brink of retirement, one of the impending issues facing organizations today is the ability to identify leaders. This could be partially blamed on the fact that less than half (48 percent) of UNC’s Leadership Survey respondents reported that their companies have a formal process for developing high-potential employees. Companies looking to accelerate employees to leadership positions should seriously consider developing a formal process. Currently, organizations reported that on average 16 percent of their workforce as being identified as high-potential employees. Creating a leadership development plan could expand organizations talent pools and set them up for greater success.
Who knows your business better than you? No one. That’s why when you take responsibility for developing your own leadership plan, you can ensure that the organizational values are incorporated and reflected in the final product. Before you can begin crafting an effective leadership development plan you must first define what effective leadership looks like in your business. In knowing this, you can decide more easily which program offerings are best.
Follow these five steps to get you started:
Step One: What does leadership look like in your company?
Take a good look around at the leaders in your organization. What makes them successful leaders? Avoid the cliché definitions of leadership such as “team player” and “hard worker.” Think beyond the typical traits we associate with leadership and really find what attributes set these people apart. Find out what really drives them to reach the goals they’ve set for themselves and their departments.
Step Two: What changes do you want to see?
Building a leadership development program for the sake of adding it to your corporate resume is a wasted effort. While it is an added recruiting tool, the goal is to impart leadership skills onto your employees that will enhance their value and improve overall productivity. As a side note, align the changes you wish to see with the current company culture to ensure a positive response.
Step Three: Who will participate?
Although looking to upper level employees to fill leadership gaps makes sense, companies should consider taking a more proactive approach, developing talent across the board. A study by UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School shows positive trends among companies. In fact, ninety-two percent of companies reported that their development dollars are being allocated to all employees, not just their high-potentials. With this strategy, companies are positioning themselves for success when the time comes to fill skill shortages.
Step Four: Let the planning begin
Once you have answered steps 1- 3 you can then begin planning the actual program, and there are several factors to consider:
- Length. Weekend trip or weekly training workshop? Consider what makes sense for your business and employee schedules. Also consider time, budget and repeatability. Weekend trips can be fun and engaging but sometimes costly and hard to maintain, so having on-going weekly workshops can be just as engaging for less money.
- Materials. What do you need to get your point across? Maybe it’s speakers, written materials, inspirational videos or maybe a combination. Whatever it may be, make sure to include this into your budget planning and scheduling so you have ample amount of time to prepare. If lesson sheets or PowerPoints are options, consider creating generic templates that can be reused to save time.
- Activities. Sometimes “doing” is more impactful than telling. It is likely that your employees have sat through plenty of workshops and appreciate a new perspective or delivery. Feel free to get creative. Look here for ideas on fun and interactive leadership activities.
Step Five: How effective were you?
After the conclusion of any new process, an evaluation should follow. Distribute surveys and ask participants to provide feedback about their experience. Keep in mind leadership development is a process, so check back in after six months to see how effective you were.
An internal leadership development program is not the golden ticket, but it is a valuable tool that provides employees with necessary leadership skills. So, as your planning out your next budget, consider investing in leadership and development. When the time comes to fill critical positions, you’ll have a great talent pool to dip into.