How do things get done round here? What happens when the boss is away? These two questions can be answered with an understanding of an organisation’s culture and leadership. Developing leaders involves a number of activities. Still, the area most underdeveloped is the role of current leaders in creating new leaders. Current leaders need to fully grasp the importance of this responsibility vested in them by their organisation and make these activities a cornerstone of their organisational culture.
Developing leaders involves a number of activities, which address both leader development – developing human capital and leadership development – developing social capital.
Too little time is invested in developing new leaders by current leaders. The tyranny of the urgent takes precedence on a daily basis, yet it is attention to this responsibility vested in them by the organisation that will truly provide an organisation of people equipped to meet the future demands placed on the organisation by the environment it operates in.
Managers further up the hierarchy can be nervous about the changes, feel even more isolated than before and find it difficult to acknowledge their learning needs.
Leadership Development initiatives are often targeted at lower levels of management and neglect an organisational perspective by identifying the important role of current leaders.
By ingraining this behaviour in their leadership style much more value will be gained from leader and leadership development. A leaders “story” of their journey must include how they have developed new leaders for it to truly be a leadership story.
More momentum can be gained form leader and leadership development by a multi level multi faceted programme, creating a journey for the full leadership of the organisation. Often when great leaders tell their “story” it is about the person in their career that believed in them and pushed them. All leaders should be able to tell a similar story of the people who believed in them.
A number of approaches can be taken, and whichever is taken there are four fundamentals for successful leader creation that hold: pay attention, talk straight, provide perspective and build connections. Current leaders are often concerned about raising expectations that cannot be filled, however if the four points described above are used for open and honest two-way communication there will be valuable ways of developing new leaders.
This involves really listening, helping to identify career values, work interests, and marketable skills, creating an open climate to discuss concerns about their leadership path and help articulate what they want from their career.
- Encourage them to talk about themselves
- Listen to the results of their self assessment
- Ask clarifying questions
- Provide ideas for further exploration
Along with regular feedback on performance and how they are perceived, describing what it will take to progress. Point out the relationship between performance and future prospects and give specific suggestions on how to improve performance.
- Establish clear standards and expectations
- Give feedback with supporting evidence and rationale
- Add information overlooked by the person
- Connect performance to potential
Provide your future leaders with information on your organisation and industry. Show them how to locate and access additional sources of information, and how to watch for emerging trends and developments impacting on their career goals and own pathways to leadership. Give an understanding of cultural and political beliefs and strategic direction of the organisation.
- Give your views about current organisational problems and challenges
- Provide ideas and input on opportunities
- Provide awareness and insights on changes in your industry and workplace
Success is built on the foundation of personal relationships, help new leaders to develop a network of relationships. Arrange contacts at different levels of the organisation and industry. Make sure you are discussing promising people in your team and work with those promising people on learning assignments and career action plans.
- Review development plans
- Connect with others with relevant organisational data
- Debrief development plan assignments
- Publicise achievements
Opportunities for developing new leaders:
Along with moving up in the organisation new leaders can expand their knowledge, skills and networks through a sideways move. This could be achieved both within the organisation and outside and will help strengthen their leadership. They can “grow in place” by having their own job expanded, changed responsibility, increased decision making and having more challenge. They may explore possibilities of other jobs especially if they are at a cross roads in their career. Realignment or moving downwards is often seen as negative, however it can give the opportunity to gain a better position in the next move. If all else fails, helping the new leader to decide what their next move is outside of this organisation. (Hesselbein, 2008)
Current leaders who understand their role in creating new leaders, have the vision and take the first steps reap the benefits of a community of leaders creating a competitive edge.
- Current leaders engagement is necessary for this strategy to work.
- The strategy requires changes to organisational cultures so leadership is seen as a community, not a hierarchical system.
- It requires open, honest communication, a willingness to learn and an understanding of the concepts of leader and leadership development
- Initially an independent facilitated process will support gaining momentum.
- Opportunities for current and new leaders to work collegially on assignments that allow new leaders to practice their new knowledge and skills on real organisational issues
- Use of Leadership networks, both peer and organisational.
- Reward successes, tell the story of successes
- Make it part of the “way we do things here” by setting the expectation at recruitment and performance measurement