Leadership ladders: developing your next generation of leaders
- gather the best advice
- develop good strategies
- make consistently excellent decisions
Rather than having to start from scratch every time a leader moves on, forward-thinking organisations stay one step ahead by proactively developing the next generation of leaders.
Don’t expect perfection in the early days
Very few leaders enter their careers as the finished product. Great leadership capability comes as people are able to combine:
- specific industry skills
- theoretical knowledge
- real-world experience.
Look for employees who demonstrate maturity, capability and initiative, and reward them by investing in their learning and development. These opportunities will pay dividends when they’re asked to take on a larger role, and will keep them engaged with your organisation as their career develops.
Make the most of your current leaders
Developing a mentoring program within key leadership roles is an excellent way to begin preparing your understudy leaders.
We know that 20% of career learning and development occurs through formal or informal mentoring within the workplace. It’s the age-old apprenticeship model that was used for centuries of professional development. It still works wonders in today’s modern world when you combine
- mentoring relationships
- formal learning opportunities
- on-the-job experience.
Don’t shift the goalposts
There is very little to lose from formalising a development program for potential leaders. This is done by linking improvements in their performance to training and education opportunities.
As we all know, the worst-case scenario is actually not providing them with any learning and development opportunities, and having them stick around. That’s how you eventually end up with poor leadership.
At the end of the day, it’s about developing the greatest range of options available for leadership positions when they become vacant. You want the ability to respond to leadership vacancies proactively, rather than reactively.