Leaders that understand the importance of the sustainability of their organizations, succession, legacy and ensuring that new leaders are able to succeed in their roles pay attention to making concrete investments in building a healthy pipeline of leaders for the future.
It’s like the investment that top football clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester United make in their youth teams and feed them into the senior teams, ensuring an abundance of football talent and the long-term success of the clubs.
Just like the football clubs, organizations like yours need to pay attention to building their future talent and being very deliberate about it. Here are a number of deliberate actions that we will recommend for building that leadership/talent pipeline for your organization:
#1: Create a Culture of Leadership:
One way to ensure that you build your next generation of leaders is to ensure that leadership is at the core of your organizational culture. A culture of leadership is focused on personal accountability and ownership and getting your team members to understand and live out the truism that leadership is influence, and that they can all create influence by taking ownership of the things around them regardless of their position or status.
Your role is not just to say this but to demonstrate it through your own actions and the high standards you set for them.
#2: Hire Leadership Potential:
Football clubs spend a lot of time scouting for great talent, and when they find them, they put them through a rigorous assessment and select the very best. You must do the same. If your notion of recruitment is just to get the next human body available to do the work without paying attention to the quality of the person, then you will always have a leadership challenge. When you hire, look out for the leadership qualities that matter to you.
#3: Mentor Your Next Generation:
A culture of mentoring: building bonds, teaching, guiding, coaching and motivating is critical in building your next generation of leaders. Some organizations institutionalize mentoring and make it a part of the organization’s DNA. This has proven to be very effective in creating the next generation of leaders in such organizations.
#4: Stretch Your Talent:
Beyond selecting and mentoring, you should stretch your talented employees – give them opportunities to play in the “big league”, give them more “work-outs’, challenge them with more complex assignments, research and tasks, and soon you will start to see their real quality shine through.
#5: Manage Obstacles:
When new managers are promoted, you have the responsibility of ensuring that any obstacles to their success are removed. You will need to ensure that the right performance management systems are in place, and that they are truly empowered to act in their new position of leadership.
#6: Teach Leadership:
Finally, teach leadership. There is nothing more unfortunate than taking the best accountant in your team and promoting her to Chief Accountant without preparing her for the leadership responsibilities of being a supervisor of accountants. Prepare such future leaders with training and capacity building in the area of leadership. Teach them to see leadership not as power, position or privilege, but as service, sacrifice and simplicity.
Too many people complain that having made investments in teaching leadership, their new managers are still not prepared and make mistakes. True – but the answer lies in the fact that you must go beyond just teaching but must embrace these other important steps to create a culture and environment for your next generation of leaders to thrive and succeed.