In the wake of a
worldwide financial meltdown and subsequent reductions to leadership ranks in
many organizations across the globe, companies’ top leaders are more concerned
than ever about keeping and growing their remaining best talent. Regardless of
the economic condition, it is critical to be as strategic about your leadership
talent pipeline as you are about your business model, your revenues, your
customers, and your competitive position.
To compete and thrive
today, there is no choice but to align the strategy for your leadership talent
pipeline with your long-term business strategy ensuring that your bench has the
leadership skills necessary to deliver on present and future business goals. The pipeline becomes a part of your
leadership development strategy which is the accelerator required to enable the
development of your leaders who are truly capable of driving your business
A 4-Step Roadmap to an Effective Leadership Development Strategy
Our research shows that
top organizations take a few critical steps to build an effective leadership
Align leadership development to company values
and business goals.
With the engagement of your executives, define and
document your strategic and organizational level business priorities. Next,
create a clear line of sight from your business goals to your leaders’
performance expectations and work. To connect these dots, develop a leadership
competency model that provides a coherent, unifying framework for the
leadership behaviors that support your organization’s values and business
Create a development architecture for all leader
Based on the leadership skills and capabilities that
you defined for current and future organizational success, create development
opportunities and individualized leader development plans that are aligned with
each leader’s needs and the organization’s needs. To address the unique
development needs of each leader level, develop learning opportunities, communities
and networks among multiple levels of leaders and across the enterprise.
Facilitate cross-functional and cross-geography collaboration. Ensure that
leader-level development experiences are progressive between levels and bridge
the gap between learning and real work.
Define a delivery strategy that leverages
Managers and leaders at each level – first line,
mid-level, senior, and high-potential -- have unique development needs.
First-time managers need development support in establishing credibility with
former peers and co-workers, building the managerial mind-set, learning
leadership fundamentals, and influencing others across the organization with
minimal authority. Mid-level leaders need help in expanding their knowledge of
and ability to execute the business strategy, managing broader spheres of
influence, identifying and developing potential leadership talent, and
balancing the scale of change and agility. Senior leaders and high-potential
leaders often need development experiences that ensure that they have the
capabilities necessary to sustain and drive your organization’s success. This includes leading across multiple
functions or business groups, ensuring short- and long-term business results
across the organization, analyzing changes in the business environment,
integrating conflicting strategic priorities, developing capability,
championing innovation, managing diverse workforces, and building global
acumen. Top organizations design development solutions that are leader-led and
focus on experiential, action-learning, simulation, and coaching opportunities
through a mix of formal and informal delivery methodologies.
Define evaluation and accountability standards.
Top organizations ensure that there is clear
accountability for ownership and execution of the leadership development
strategy. This means the establishment of a governance structure that hold
leaders accountable for the development of others, measures the effectiveness
and impact of individual leadership programs (and makes the purposeful decision
to re-design or even retire those that aren’t aligned with business goals
and/or don’t drive impact), and identifies and tracks metrics that capture the
effect of the execution and impact of its leadership development strategy.
The Value of a Business-Driven Leadership Development Strategy
Leaders must create work
environments that engage, encourage a sense of ownership, and accelerate
learning and development. Today’s leaders are more involved than ever in
teaching, coaching, and creating growth
opportunities for people in order to build a workforce that is a source of
competitive advantage. To do so effectively, they need the roadmap – your
organization’s leadership development strategy that accelerates your business
Our research shows that
organizations that have invested in business-driven leadership development
strategies create clarity for all leaders regarding performance expectations;
they build unity around what it means for
leaders to behave in a manner consistent with the company’s culture, and they
understand that agile execution will deliver on their business goals.
So, I’m curious:
actions have you taken to ensure the alignment between your leadership
development strategy and your business strategy?
Please write to me at
PS: I’m in process on writing a leadership
development strategy toolkit that will be available to our members. Regarding
my question above, please do share your thoughts with me. That’s your free
insurance that my tool will target your unique needs making it pragmatic and
useful for you J.
In my next post, we’ll
talk more about our fourth best practice of leadership development – targeting
all levels of leadership for development – and just how we go about defining
leader levels and making choices about how best to develop them.
Until next time….
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Andrea Derler, Ph.D., joined Bersin by Deloitte in March 2015 and leads the Leadership & Succession Management research practice. She brings international work experience as leadership trainer & coach and a solid academic background to this role. Prior to joining Bersin, she collaborated closely with organizations in the USA as well as Europe in order to pursue practice-oriented leadership research. Andrea studied international management, organizational culture and integral leadership and facilitated leadership development efforts in a variety of industries. She holds a doctoral degree in Economics (Leadership & Organization), and a Master’s degree in Philosophy. Her work about leaders’ Ideal Employee recently received wide-spread media attention in Europe and was published in the Leadership & Organization Development Journal.
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