Tailored Leadership Development: My Story and Lessons for your Organization
The most successful companies of the 21st century will not be those with the best products or services, but rather the ones with the best talent. Are you building next-generation leaders within your organization?
During an alumni party my friends got talking about how uncertain the future was as we took on our first jobs; while we had MBAs, we had no idea of working in the corporate world. I had the privilege and good fortune of joining an organization with a proactive and enlightened view of developing new leaders who had the academic muscle but lacked business experience. I spent my first couple of years rotating across business functions, job shadowing, participating in strategy meetings, and being mentored by senior leaders.
The most successful companies of the 21st century will not be those with the best products or services, but rather the ones with the best talent. Are you building next-generation leaders within your organization? Are your existing talent development programs addressing the needs of the organization? In many organizations, the answer is “not really.”
In a survey of senior executives and human capital leaders, for example, only 13 percent said their organizations had ample leadership pipelines
. Strengthening this pipeline has become a strategic imperative for many organizations and they are directing considerable budget to achieving better outcomes, yet the impact continues to fall short.
This may be because many organizations adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to development. In 2011 ManpowerGroup identified that the world had entered a new era in which talent would be the key economic differentiator: the Human Age
. Six years later the impact of the Human Age on business and the workforce is increasingly apparent. Right Management developed the P3 model
to provide a systematic way for organizations to build strong leadership pipelines by identifying talent with the greatest potential for success, helping them develop a focused set of capabilities, and managing their performance by measuring and rewarding relevant outcomes.
Looking back at my own career journey, as I moved on from mid-level to senior management I went through a leadership program, where I had to take an assessment
to see if I was even ready to get on the program and what specific areas were gaps for me. This time the program included more simulation-based learning, one-on-one coaching
, peer-learning, social learning etc. As I grew in capabilities over the years, new programs helped me layer on the new skills necessary to grow as an individual and deliver the best for my organization.
The ‘secret sauce’ wasn’t in the content; the value of these programs was in how they addressed what was needed at that point in my development and how they linked to the changing global business environment.
Greater segmentation and specificity can significantly benefit any talent development program. When learning a sport, for example, skills taught to beginners are more basic than those taught at higher levels of mastery. The one thing coaches prize at all levels is learnability—the desire to continually seek more knowledge and apply it to growing one’s proficiency.
Learnability is equally important in the business world. Organizations will need to be “learnable” to grow and evolve to address the forces of our dynamic world, while individuals with high learnability will be more adept at developing flexible skills to meet the changing workforce or market requirements. Assessing the Learnability Quotient in your employees can help you in identifying their leadership/growth potential and then devising the appropriate personal development plans. (For a quick assessment of your own Learnability Quotient, go here.)
When you establish the developmental needs of your talent, segment them into defined groups, and develop specific programs to help them grow, you will begin to see a greater return on your training investment. Leadership development is about applying the right type of intervention at every stage to help talent to continue growing the skills and confidence to manage increasingly complex and strategic challenges.
Products and services can be replicated. Companies that will be truly differentiated in the future will have an edge in human capital by growing effective leaders at all levels.
Author: Radhika Paul, Vice President and Principal Consultant, Right Management.