By John Hansen
A business is a collection of people working for the same cause, and a leader is required to define that cause. Growth of a business will only come through the time and talents of others. To identify, attract, fill and retain corporate leadership talent, companies need leadership development programs focused on hiring strategies, employee development, and career and succession planning.
Companies face two major challenges in finding and developing leaders. They need to identify qualified candidates to fill current and future leadership roles, and they need to develop a comprehensive leadership program to cultivate and develop the leaders of tomorrow.
Major talent management functions all play a part in a comprehensive leadership development program and can be well supported by a unified talent management technology platform. These functions include recruitment, assessment, performance management, succession planning and career planning.
A successful leadership development program begins with the alignment of leadership development with company strategy and an understanding of the type of leadership style(s) needed to execute that strategy.
- DETERMINE THE BEST LEADERSHIP STYLE FOR YOUR ORGANISATION
Get to know candidates better. Psychological and behavioural assessments have been statistically linked to current and future success in leadership roles.
Understand the culture better. Ask your board, employees, vendors, consultants for insight into what makes an effective leader in the company.
Use both sets of information to find alignments or disparities. If there is a glaring cultural conflict, be ready to find a better candidate who possesses the unique skills your organisation requires.
- IDENTIFY CURRENT AND POTENTIAL LEADERS WITHIN OR OUTSIDE THE COMPANY
Leaders can be found both internally and externally. Companies must weigh the cost and timing of developing internal leadership against the cost and availability of hiring from the outside. Research has shown that one of the key advantages of developing leaders internally is that they achieve productivity almost 50% faster than external candidates.
When leadership positions cannot be filled from within the company, recruitment should use the same measurements to test the existing competencies of future potential candidates.
Online pre-assessments and full assessment testing can help ensure that the right candidates are on the short list. Unqualified candidates are automatically filtered out, not on the basis of their resumes but, rather, on the basis of a self-administered online test or questionnaire.
- IDENTIFY LEADERSHIP GAPS
To fully recognise leadership gaps, companies should determine current and future leadership requirements and compare those with the current leadership team. Then look at the leadership development pipeline and identify gaps in skills and the time required to fill those gaps either via succession plan or recruitment.
- DEVELOP SUCCESSION PLANS FOR CRITICAL ROLES
Succession planning avoids disruption and employee trauma when the CEO leaves, whether the departure is anticipated or not. But a succession plan should not be confined to executive roles. As part of the leadership program, companies should evaluate critical roles throughout the organisation.
For the greatest efficacy, succession planning should be supported by technology systems that provide the ability to track candidate readiness based on skills, competencies and performance; promote top candidates based on relative ranking and composite feedback scores.
- DEVELOP CAREER PLANNING GOALS FOR POTENTIAL LEADERS
Companies that support career planning for their employees gain in retention, engagement and protection of the leadership pipeline. Combining employee development with self-service career planning enables employees to not only explore potential career paths but also to select the development activities necessary to attain them.
- DEVELOP A SKILLS ROADMAP FOR FUTURE LEADERS
Once the high-potential employees have been identified, a skills roadmap should be developed for the future leaders. In today’s connected world, development programs need to support both traditional and non-traditional learning such as incorporating social networking tools into the development process.
- DEVELOP RETENTION PROGRAMS FOR CURRENT AND FUTURE LEADERS
Leadership retention is critically important for all organisations, for two main reasons: turnover is expensive and top performers drive optimum business performance.
A well-designed leadership development program is the key to identifying, attracting, filling and retaining corporate leadership. Technology applications can provide the enabling platform, including recruitment, assessments, performance management, succession and career planning, and development programs.
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