The mindset of how to identify and train new leaders has changed. Due to technology advancements, geographical influences, and financial and people demands, many companies are failing to clarify what they need, and failing to find and develop the right ones. As a result, many future leaders are not ready to lead.
How do you identify and develop future leaders for your company?
First, Identify and Qualify Them
Competence. Are they results producers? Where is the gap between the skills they currently have and those required? Do they have the people savvy to effectively communicate and work with anyone, anywhere and at any time?
Qualified Assessments. Use them. Start now. They help uncover what you don’t know about a person—the kind of information left uncovered that can come back to haunt you. Due to their incredible accuracy, qualified assessments are invaluable in helping guide the development. They clarify the “why” a person is effective, or not.
Oust Biases. Identify your own biases and set them aside.
A business owner was having a hard time hiring the right person to take over running his company. He had failed several times. His bias was to hire people he liked who had the right title and came with the right connections. If they had a one-time winning experience, that helped too. Unfortunately, using these biases as criteria for a leader does not translate into actually being able to effectively run and build a financially successful company!
Don’t Promote Too Soon. This is a company’s biggest hidden expense. When managers promote employees who are not ready, lack the resilience to handle challenges or conflicts, or do not have the interest in developing the required skills (regardless of what they tell you), they leave. They take employees and clients with them. Use incremental titles to keep Millennials who are impatient to get ahead.
Second, Develop Them
Recognize Lone Rangers. Many up-and-coming leaders refuse to take advice. These DIYers will take the company and management team down with them rather than ask for help. Provide them board and management team training focused on working with and through others, managing conflict and executing change. If they are ineffective and unwilling to improve, now is the time to look elsewhere.
Preparation. Assign them team projects and have them participate in trade association events and boards. Include them in high-level discussions and ask their opinions. This will help them understand there is more to leadership than just having the title. They will either relish the opportunities or dread them. Do not overlook their readiness to assume the next leadership role.
The Right Coaching. The laser-like ability to develop talent is a critical skill many current leaders, executives and business owners do not have. Provide future leaders with an internal mentor and an external coach to help groom them. Guide the creation of quarterly goals and check in to ensure they are on the right track.
What If They Are Not Ready?
There may come a time when you need to bring in someone from the outside to get the company on track and build future internal leaders. The problem is where to look. One option is finding a current executive, but they are often happy in their current job and must be promised job security to move. Another option is a consultant, but they are often overlooked because they have gray hair. Other challenges could be stereotypes or consultant only wanting to work part-time. Ask your network for introductions. Ensure the new leader is able to develop a successful succession plan, work past family business or existing succession plan biases, and navigate internal company politics. Don’t forget to negotiate a win-win exit plan for them when the internal candidates are ready.
©Jeannette Seibly, 2017-2018
Jeannette Seibly has been recognized as a catalyst for the past 25 years. As an executive coach, speaker and author, she provides straight talk with dynamic results. Are you having trouble planning for the future and/or letting go of the reins? Don’t wait! Contact Jeannette now for a preliminary confidential conversation.