How to identify & develop your company's next generation of leaders?
"Leadership is not about finding the next best person; it's about recognizing and cultivating the potential in every person." - source unknown.
As the old guard gradually transitions, it becomes imperative to identify and cultivate the next generation of leaders. The future of your company hinges upon the ability to recognize and nurture talented individuals who possess the vision, skills, and passion to navigate the complexities of tomorrow's business world. So let's embark on this transformative journey together and nurture the seeds of success within your organization.
Assess Leadership Needs and Competencies
The first step in assessing leadership needs is to understand your organization's strategy, goals, and future direction. You should consider the industry landscape, emerging trends, and anticipated challenges to determine the specific leadership competencies required to achieve your future objectives. The competencies can be strategic thinking, effective communication, dynamic decision-making, problem-solving, adaptability, emotional intelligence, and the ability to motivate and inspire others. You need to conduct a gap analysis to assess the current leadership team against the future requirements based on market dynamics. The strengths & weaknesses in the current leadership team will help you to identify gaps for development.
Mattel company's Jill Barad was chosen to lead the company for her top performance in the marketing field. However, she lacked insight into the financial and strategic aspects of leading the company and hence failed. It is necessary to choose a leader who has all the required general competencies and not just expertise in one aspect of management.
As per a 2022 LinkedIn workplace report, baby boomers, people born between 1946 – 1964, constitute 31% of the current workforce, and 56% of these people are in leadership positions. The leaders in the coming 10 -15 years will be millennials (people born between 1981 and 1996). So you need to be ready with a succession plan to fill the leadership gap to avoid disruption, uncertainty, and conflict, and endangers future competitiveness." So when we speak about developing future leaders, it is the structured succession plan that we should develop.
Leadership Training and Skill Development
You can identify and evaluate talent from your current talent pool. Look out for potential successors for each critical position. Look for individuals who have demonstrated high performance, strong leadership qualities, and the potential to take on more significant responsibilities.
Once you have identified a successor, create a personalized development plan for each individual. These plans should outline the specific steps, training, experiences, and opportunities required to prepare them for the target positions. You can offer a combination of on-the-job training, mentoring, coaching, job rotations, and formal education programs.
Mentoring and coaching are one of the best ways to train successors. You can establish a mentoring program within your organization where experienced leaders can provide guidance and support to high-potential employees. Additionally, you can consider coaching to help potential leaders enhance their skills, address their development areas, and navigate career progression.
Cross-functional experience for potential successors helps them gain a broader understanding of the organization, develop a diverse skill set, and build relationships across various teams.
Let's consider a potential successor who is currently working in the Finance department and aspires to become a leader in the company. You can assign the potential successor to a marketing project where they can work closely with the marketing team for a designated period. During this period, they can learn about market research, customer segmentation, marketing strategies, and campaign execution. This experience will provide them with insights into customer behavior, market dynamics, and the importance of branding and communication. Likewise, assign the potential leader to various other departmental projects.
Encouraging Networking and Relationship Building
Your network is your net worth- Porter Gale.
This quote by Porter Gale emphasizes the importance of networking for future leaders within a company. It suggests that the value of your professional connections and relationships can have a significant impact on your success and opportunities for growth. Building and nurturing a strong network enables future leaders to access resources, gain valuable insights, collaborate with others, and open doors to new possibilities. By cultivating meaningful connections within and outside the organization, future leaders can expand their knowledge and influence and ultimately enhance their leadership capabilities.
Empowering and Delegating Authority
Empowering leaders through delegation of authority is a critical aspect of developing their leadership skills and fostering a culture of trust and autonomy. You can effectively delegate authority and empower leaders by following the below pointers:
- Define clear roles and responsibilities by outlining their decision-making authority, accountability, and the scope of their responsibilities
- Establish clear expectations regarding their delegated authority
- Start with small delegations and allow them to gradually assume more authority
- Grant leaders autonomy in decision-making and allow them to take ownership of their delegated tasks and projects
- Set up mechanisms to monitor and evaluate the performance of leaders in their delegated roles
- If leaders make errors while exercising their delegated authority, provide support and guidance to help them learn from those experiences.
- Continuously review the delegation of authority as leaders grow, and their responsibilities evolve
- Adjust the level of delegated authority based on their progress, development, and organizational needs
Continuous Feedback and Performance Management
You should evaluate and track the progress continuously of potential leaders in their development journey. You should provide feedback and create development plans that address their strengths and areas for improvement. Do update these plans based on their performance and changing organizational needs. If you identify any development gaps or areas where successors may need additional training or experience, then offer targeted development opportunities. Specialized training programs, coaching, or external certifications can address these gaps and enhance their readiness for leadership roles.
Monitor and Adjust Development Plans
Developing leaders through succession planning is an ongoing process that requires dedication and investment. You should regularly review and update the succession plan to align with changing organizational needs, market conditions, and individual development progress. Be flexible and adaptable to accommodate unexpected changes or new talent that emerge within the organization.
You can establish a robust succession planning process that identifies, develops, and prepares future leaders, ensuring a strong leadership pipeline and organizational resilience.
ManpowerGroup, through its research and unique insights, can guide how organizations and individuals can win in the continuously evolving corporate culture through its innovative workforce solutions. Talk to us to know more about our Thought leadership.