As we move through the beginning stages of the twenty-first century we find that there remains a growing leadership gap for our businesses. These organizations need leaders who can effectively navigate the complex and changing situations of our times. Organizations need to assess who is currently available in the workforce and whether they have the necessary competencies to lead.
We continue to see that the leadership shortage stems from recruiting wars for the scarce talent, retirement of baby boomers, changes in the nature of work, and poorly designed professional development efforts. Judging on the accelerated business growth we are experiencing, it becomes imperative that we identify and arm our emerging leaders with such skills as inspiring commitment, strategic planning and change management to successfully lead. To shrink the leadership gap in your organization and enlarge the leadership pool, follow these 4 recommendations.
Clarify your company’s future vision
Setting long range goals, strategic plans and vision are common responsibilities for company leaders. In a time when organizations are experiencing major changes in the way we work, leadership capacity must also adapt and evolve to meet these demands. As you clarify where your company is headed in the future, you can assess whether your company has the leadership talent it needs moving forward. This is the time to determine the leadership competencies that your staff members possess, the leadership competencies that are needed for your future business model, and the gap between what you have and what you need.
Create a leadership development strategy
When you correlate the business goals with the leadership behaviors and competencies necessary to meet these goals, you have the insights to develop a successful leadership development strategy. In turn, development initiatives can be aligned with the operational needs. Consider what preparation practices can you put in place that enable people to grow to their potential. With a labor shortage, maintaining talent is going to be essential. A growing number of workers are looking for more personalized learning and development opportunities. Companies such as Pepsico have established a program where individuals partner with higher-level executives who act as sponsors and nurture their professional development.
Each company must establish its own leadership development strategy based on the unique needs of the company. Systems should be in place for recruiting, hiring, onboarding and developing staff members. Strategies for leadership development that provide the most positive results include creating documented operations procedures documented and providing individualized coaching. Enhance these with a performance review program that connect performance with learning, and an individualized growth plan. There are thousands of leadership development programs available if you are looking for formal training. However, you can develop a leadership development strategy that is more attuned to on the job training.
Hone your coaching skills
Leaving emerging leaders to enhance their competencies without dedicated guidance is like sending college football team players onto the field without practice and a game plan. Too many industries use coaching as a remediation strategy for underperformers and problem employees. Coaching support directly assists emerging leaders and closes any leadership gap before it becomes problematic.
There is a direct correlation between improved employee engagement and leadership coaching. Leaders who are effective coaches develop staff members who are more willing to go the extra mile. The most productive coaching relationships include a working alliance between the leader coach and the staff member. Secondly, it includes a shared agreement on the goals to be attained and the skills that need to be developed to reach the goals. In this relationship, you must regularly coach the individuals toward these forward-looking goals. In this manner, you and the staff members both know that their contributions matter.
Transform the performance review
The performance review process is undergoing significant change. Businesses are finding that employees are requesting the review of their work be more frequent and personalized. Managers are expected to have more interactions that include on-going feedback and coaching conversations. This iterative approach for performance review allows the manager to assist the performance on a more regular basis. If there are competency areas that need to be improved, they can be addressed within a more immediate time frame. The performance review becomes a more informal relationship that provides the employee with an opportunity for continuous improvement at a more accelerated rate.
Business owners must be proactive in shrinking the leadership gap before it wreaks havoc on the company. We are aware that the talent pool is limited and that there are more jobs than people to fill them. However, by working to enhance the skills your current workforce already owns, you can determine who among them can emerge as your next class of leaders. These people can be the key to your future success.
Download Shrinking the Leadership Gap in Your Organization as a pdf.