The Future for Leadership Development
Instead of focusing on a small group of pre-identified individuals, we now need to foster a more collective leadership mindset and build a culture in which future leaders can grow and thrive. Organisational culture is now a major differentiator for businesses looking to attract and retain the best talent, with leadership capability and agility a vital part.
There are two major shifts helping to drive this approach
- Identification of potential leaders by influence, network and behaviours rather than by their role or position within the business. This arises from moving towards leaner, flatter, non-hierarchical organisations.
- Individual employees taking responsibility for their own personal, career and leadership development, no longer leaving it to line managers or HR. Non-linear career paths and the need to keep skills up to date are driving this.
Individuals need encouragement. Along with a sense of career ownership they should develop an approach and mindset that will enable them to maximise their potential. An understanding of cultural and social sensibilities will be crucial for future leaders operating in a global marketplace. This experience can be gained through undertaking challenging projects, possibly outside the business. Similarly, an understanding of wellbeing and mindfulness will help to reduce potential stress and burn out from an always on-line/always connected business culture.
It is not only the recognised performers who need encouragement. All employees should be able to see leadership as something that is attainable if they can build and demonstrate the right behaviours and capabilities. The diversity and creativity of future organisations depends on it.
The need for an agile, flexible leadership approach is paramount. Many future business challenges are as yet undefined, whilst technology continues to disrupt many previously established business processes. Our Leadership Development programmes need to address this and help create change agents and people who can comfortably lead organisational change.
Top performing organisations are using all measurements to gauge the success of their programmes, yet many others tend to favour only subjective evaluations. The all-important commercial yardsticks of Return on Investment (ROI) and alignment with business performance shouldn’t be avoided.
To maximise employee involvement in development we need to give them a seamless learning experience that replicates much of what they expect from technology in their personal lives. At home they now have better, faster and more responsive tech than at work, and will respond more positively to a 'personalised' approach that puts them in the driving seat.
Encourage them to learn when, where and how they want. Mentoring, online coaching, video, social learning and collaboration are all ways in which the next generation of leaders expect to gain knowledge and access information. Businesses that deny them these methods, and particularly ones that make information difficult to access and share, could find themselves losing out on retaining the talent they need.
It is vital that Leadership Development programmes help to equip future leaders with the behaviours, capabilities, vision and perspective. You can read more about key trends and best practices shaping the future of Leadership Development in the first Top Employers Institute report, based on findings of the annual global Top Employers HR Best Practices Survey.