August 2015

Leading Leadership Development

 As many of my clients look ahead to the tsunami of leaders that will be leaving their organizations in the coming years, a big question I often get asked is, 'Where do we start?"  My clich├ęd answer is, "At the top!"  However, I don't just mean that succession management should focus on the top of the house.  I use that trite answer to emphasize that there  is some key work that needs to be completed by top executives if any leadership development initiative is to have an impact.


Take Ownership.  Developing leaders for the future should not be left to HR alone, though that function plays a key role.  Leadership Development should be owned by the top team and included in key goals and objectives that are cascaded down the organization. 


Build the Business Case.  The workforce planning numbers are compelling enough but the investment in development should be framed like any business investment.  What specific results do you expect to see from an investment in leadership talent?  What is the business intent?  What resources are needed and how will the return on the investment be tracked?


Understand Effective Development.  We know what it takes to develop effective leaders at all levels.  (See my free whitepapers Fixing Leadership Development or Leadership Development Redefined) Despite this knowledge, billions are wasted every year on development that doesn't work.  Much of the development waste comes from execs deciding not only why development is needed by also dictating who, what, when, and how.  This is where HR must step up and clearly outline the key components to any development effort.  


Know What Success Looks Like  Part of what we know about what makes development effective is that it should be based on a clear definition of the competencies needed for success, given the challenges and opportunities facing a business.  (See The Elegance Of Competencies).  Top leaders should be involved in developing the target competencies.  They should also understand their own strengths and weaknesses on these skills and model effective development themselves.



Stop by my Blog to join the conversation on Leadership Development. 


Its the time of year when many organizations are into the planning process for the next fiscal year.  As I look at many different planning processes, I find that most companies are not pleased with the process and do not feel they achieve the results they expect for the time invested.  From my experience, the key lies in designing and delivering a robust planning process that maximizes innovation, speed, decision-making effectiveness, and accountability.

Here are several recommendations on executing an effective planning process

Use a condensed, focused process led by a facilitator.
With the right planning and design, the best tools, and expert facilitation, a comprehensive and innovative plan can be developed in a much shorter time frame then typically expected (30% to 50% less time).  The time spent in planning discussions should be fast-paced, inclusive, and consensus building. The design of the process and the techniques used to lead critical interactions must be spot-on.


Involve More Than The Senior Team

A study of innovation by IBM Global Services showed that outperforming, high revenue growth companies' most significant source of innovative ideas were (in order) employees, business partners, customers, consultants, and competitors. (Internal R & D and sales were further down the list.)  The key for planning? - include input from a diverse range of sources, particularly those not normally involved in business decisions.  Both high potential and high professional (deep market and deep technical knowledge) employees can make a significant contribution to strategy development.


Protect the Plan

No plan is perfect. No forecast is perfect. Every contingency can never be completely addressed. However, the right people and process can identify the potential threats to a plan, assess their likelihood and impact, and develop specific actions based on how likely the threats can be detected.  The same should be developed for the upside. What could potentially cause us to be above Plan and, if so, what can we do to try to capitalize on it?


Assure that the organization is capable

Do you have a team that has the capability to handle strategic and planning task. s  If you are unsure , this needs to be assessed and addressed before any planning begins. Once the strategy is developed, senior leaders must assure that the organization has the capability to handle the demands placed on it by the strategy.


If you would like to significantly improve your business planning process, contact me for a free review.


What Are You Up to?

HR's Role in Strategy Execution

Presentation at the Pennsylvania State SHRM Conference

September 24 and 25

State College, PA 

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