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Leadership Development   | 4 Min Read

5 Steps to Successful Leadership Development in 2019

Written By Romila Kanchan

The global leadership talent pool is shrinking and it’s going to shrink further in the future. People with the skill set needed in leadership positions are not readily available in the market. The talent that is available is not able to align itself to the organizational value and vision. In the absence of external leadership talent pool, it has become more important than ever to build leadership talent internally.

Nurturing your existing talent pool to create future leaders requires regularly identifying employees that have the potential to lead and developing and nurturing them along with existing leaders so that the organization always has a successful leadership team in place in the present and future.

But just having the intention to successfully develop your internal workforce to develop them into future leaders is not enough. Organizations need to have a structured and well though out approach on who, what and how they will train to successfully meet their leadership development objectives.

Majority of organizations fail to meet their leadership objectives. Our research revealed that the most

Why Do Leadership Development Programs Fail?

According to our study, the top challenges that pose a threat to leadership development success are:

  1. Lack of senior management involvement: Getting the support of company leaders and management to contribute in leadership development is crucial as they are in the best position to suggest what skills are required most in leadership positions and how to best develop those skills in budding leaders.

  2. Long duration: The average time taken to carry out leadership development is eight months, which is too big a commitment for most trainees who have to attend training in parallel to their everyday work tasks.

  3. Lack of competency framework adoption: Lack of competency frameworks that are regularly updated to reflect the skill demand of each job role, causes organizations to provide generic training on skills that are sometimes irrelevant for the trainees.

  4. High cost: By not identifying training needs in leaders, organizations end up providing generic training. In this process a lot of the training efforts prove to be wasteful because of two reasons:
    1. Mandatory participation: even those not having any skill gaps
    2. Different training needs, same training programs: Different trainees have different developmental needs. By providing them with the same training, organizations often end up re-skilled the trainees on skills they already possess and miss out on training them on skills that they lack.

These leadership development programs end up costing a lot due to huge number of trainees they target and their long duration. Not only are these programs inefficient in terms of effort deployment, they are not able to hold the trainees’ interest for long as they are not customized to cater to each trainees’ individual developmental needs. This leads to increased trainee absenteeism and low ROI of leadership development programs.


Leadership Development: 5 Step Process

As per our research, leadership development is essentially a 5-step process:

Step 1: Create a Leadership Competency Framework

A leadership competency framework should include skills needed to succeed in any leadership role within the organization, customized to meet the specific needs of different leadership positions and regularly updated to include skills needed to create a future ready leadership team

Step 2: Identify Training Needs

Existing leaders need to be assessed on skills included in the competency framework of their job role to identify training needs in them. Based on their specific development areas, they should be provided with an individual development plan in accordance with which their leadership development training will be conducted.

Step 3: Identify High Potentials

The organization should be cognizant of employees who have the potential to become leaders. The selection of high potentials should be done by assessing the skill sets of their employees to identify those who possess leadership skills and are learning agile. The high potential employees need to be identified early on in their job tenure so that they can be retained and nurtured for taking up leadership roles.

Step 4: Create an Internal Succession Pipeline

The high potentials need to be thoroughly trained on skills needed in leadership roles. Their training should be based on their individual skill gaps. Post training, their skill levels should be assessed in a practical manner to check if they no further skill gaps and they are able to practically implement their skills on their job. Once fully trained, they form the internal succession pipeline of an organization as they are ready to take up leadership roles as and when the requirement arises. Organizations should always have a ready internal succession pipeline by consistently identifying high potentials and nurturing them.

Step 5: Measure Leadership Development Process Performance

The skill levels of all trainees should be assessed pre and post training in a scientific & data backed manner to ensure that the training needs are accurately identified, and the training are successful in filling these skill gaps efficiently. The information obtained should be used to improve the leadership development process efficiency and increase its ROI.

The Harvard survey found that only 24% of organizations are measuring the impact of their leadership development programs. As a result, the leadership development industry has a fairly shallow tool-set when it comes to actually shifting leaders’ behavior over time. We must create a more robust set of solutions than most development organizations currently offer.


In Conclusion

Involvement of right stakeholders along with a structured and scientific approach can help organizations create high performing leadership development programs that are able to meet their desired objectives time and again.


Topics: leadership development

Originally published January 03 2020,updated January 20 2020

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