Leadership Development

Recently came across an article about the top 25 companies for leaders. You can find the article here. Going through the article, couldnt help seeing that there seem to be some practices most of the organizations in the list seem to have, with respect to developing leaders. Thought it might be useful to list out the thoughts i have about these:

  1. Organizations with exceptional leadership must have a robust process to identify the leadership pipeline. There must be processes in place which can identify potential leaders across the organization, and across levels of the organization. This process must be person-independant, and must operate in a way where it can identify even junior employees who have the spark, the potential to lead, early on in their careers.
  2. There must be well-defined career paths for people who are identified as potential leaders. The important aspect here is that these people must be retained, while at the same time, ensuring they are on track to achieving their leadership potential. Lot of organizations refer to these as fast-track, or star-performers, but this career path approach must go beyond just that, to giving responsibility to these people to manage important projects or teams. This is not just about honing skills, but about giving them the opportunity to continuously prove their potential, both to the organization as well as to themselves.
  3. There must be a well-defined development process for these identified leaders. This development process needs go beyond training, and must include a range of other tools, including simulations, coaching, mentoring, special assignments, even including potential leaders as observers in senior management reviews, for example. This is a way of enabling them to not just understand theoretical concepts, but to develop themselves through hands-on experience, and through the guidance of leaders. Important here it is to include the senior leadership of the organizations in this process, especially when it comes to mentoring and coaching. This is where the senior leaders need to invest effort in developing the next line of leaders for the organization.
  4. Instead of looking at leadership development as a point intervention, it must be seen as a process which is going to take time, with defined milestones, and ways of evaluating performance while at the same time including feedback mechanisms which could further help enable the coaching and mentoring process.
  5. Grooming leaders must a mandatory part of the work of the senior leadership of the organization.

Assuming that different people would have aptitude for different functions, it would also be important to identify the areas of the organizations which different leaders are groomed for. Not every potential leader would be the CEO, thats something we need to accept, but having done that, we also need to define clearly who can play a leadership role in which domain of the organization.


3 Comments on “Leadership Development”

  1. Manu Goyal says:


    Having a process to identify leaders is not sufficient in itself since it would be a real person who would actually identify such a talent. That would normally be a senior level person. Just how many senior level person interact with junior people? So essentially your process will need to include a cultural change for the most organization.
    Add to it the skill of the people in identifying leadership talent without feeling threatened by it.
    Also why would an organization feel the need to develop talent inhouse when it can go and get leaders from outside for cheap! This would probably explain why the leaders of the companies are normally hired from outside rather than being promoted from the insiders (at least in the US).


  2. thoughtsandme2004 says:

    Well put, Manu. It is indeed a cultural shift in organizations to think of planned leadership development. There may not be much merit in internal vis a vis lateral … there are examples of outsiders doing well at leadership roles, as there are also examples of internal people doing well as well. The examples that come to mind are Lou Gerstner and Sam Palmisano. I am looking here at levels below the CEO level too, where it is important for the organization to identify and nurture the entrepreneurial spirit.

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