November 2015

Accelerating leadership development
Is your company ready for the coming tsunami of retiring baby boomers?

If not, you aren't alone. A 2014 survey conducted by the University of North Carolina and the Human Capital institute found that 85 percent of the respondents agreed that they urgently need to accelerate the development of their leaders. In addition, almost half of the leaders did not feel that they have the current bench strength to meet future business needs.

Accelerated leadership development is possible. I have worked with both for-profit and no-profit organizations that have successfully improved the size and capability of their bench. And they achieved the development faster than they had in the past. To do so required a commitment and an approach that was not like typical development efforts.

Begin With the Business Strategy
My strong bias in any approach to strategic talent practices is that they must be built from and directly linked to the organization's strategic plan. This assures that there is a clear business case for the additional investment required to create an impact. And yes, accelerating development usually requires an additional investment in terms of money, time and resources. However, done properly, the return on that investment is worth it.

Know What Success Looks Like
The other reason to begin with the strategy is that strategy can be translated into the competencies (knowledge, skills and abilities) required for leadership success. Starting with strategy means that the success models will be future-focused; the competencies will be defined in terms of what is needed in the future, not what was important in the past. Competency models should also reflect the skills of high performing, high potential leaders. Research shows that HiPo leaders approach their work and view success in a much different way than average leaders. Development can be accelerated by knowing and focusing on the competencies that make a difference, not any and all skills.

Make Development Intentional
Of all the factors that can accelerate development, intentional development is the most critical. Intentional Development involves:
  • Framing development in the context of the person's career and the business case so that the WIIFM is clear.
  • Placing high-potential employees in challenging jobs, projects, or assignments and building development into the work, not bolting it on as something extra to do.
  • Focusing development not just on skill gaps or weaknesses but also on enhancing existing strengths, addressing blind spots, compensating for skills that are tough to develop or toning down over-used competencies.
  • Employing cohorts of learners that can support each other, create mutual accountability and act as an unbiased source of feedback.
  • Using training or self-study as a small but just-in-time component of the development process.
  • Supporting development with expert coaching, supervisor feedback, and mentoring.

The commitment is significant. The change in talent practices can be a challenge for some leaders. But the standard approach to developing leaders doesn't work. Improving the capability and capacity of your leadership pipeline can be accelerated to the point that any talent tsunami can be reduced to a mere ripple.


Want to read more?  Check out my white paper on Accelerating Leadership Development
You can also Stop by my Blog to join the conversation on Strategic Talent Management. 
Michael's Upcoming Events

Strategy Execution:  Living Your Mission, Vision and Values

Presentation at the Valve Manufacturers Association Annual CEO Forum

March 22

Denver, CO

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