Developing the Next Leaders

Leadership development is not merely acquiring knowledge from reading books or attaining an MBA.  Leadership is the transition from talented or technical individual contributors to those that can clarify aspirations, not just deliver the assessments of the company’s current reality.  The process of becoming a true ‘leader’ is a journey that mandates commitment, discipline, passion, competency; and, an awareness of social relationships, personally and professionally.  It is not a one-time retreat or rally building weekend.

As companies develop their own leadership cultivation programs, here are key factors to remember:

  • Leadership is not the property of individuals or departments.  Most programs require the participants to be away from their current job for a period of time, attending structured classes, participating in projects to polish expertise, or to be on some form of revolving assignment for growth.
  • Leaders introduce levels of change that can be uncomfortable for colleagues.  Returning leaders validate older conversations that worked in the past; but, can now identify where they need to go forward in creating new domains for conversations.  They may bring in new vocabulary or expressions that peers may not have previously heard.

As you develop your next generation of leaders, ask yourself:

  • How will you design your leadership’s social system to honor a mix of values eliminating the ‘one value-one strategy’ approach in any new programs?
  • What is the plan for a continued shared future as markets and economics may change?  Will there be quarterly meeting or annual retreats between the leaders and their direct reports?
  • How are you assessing the capabilities of the rising managers for flexibility and adaptability in the coming future?

Great too hear your thoughts and comments on this one.


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15 Responses to Developing the Next Leaders

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    • Yuni says:

      I agree with the comments aalredy posted. I’d ask the team what impact it has on their work when team members don’t show up, and what they want to do about it. I think all coaches have to be careful and clear when they wear the dual hats of AL program manager and coach. I experienced this situation with a team working a multi-month org challenge. I was serving as program manager and coach. The team developed a lot of hostility toward one member who wouldn’t show and wasn’t pulling his weight. They would not confront the individual directly, but the non-verbals could have knocked you over! Since they knew they all experience was part of hi-po leadership development, they looked to me in my PM role to do something about the non-participating individual. The Problem Owner was aware of it, so I deferred to him to take action about the individual’s lack of participation. (He didn’t, that I could tell.) It all came to a head when the AL teams were finished, and they wanted some mention of their work/contribution included in performance appraisals, since the AL engagement took a considerable amount of their time. The PO decided to honor that request and wrote that input, as he was in their management chain. Which brings up another issue for a Program Manager and the leadership sponsoring AL teams: setting clear expectations up front with participants about AL as a development activity, rather than a performance expectation. What will be formally documented? How will uneven participation be regarded? Would love to hear some other experiences on this one, from the Program Manager perspective. My own experience tells me it’s better to frame it solely as a developmental experience, and to keep it out of the performance appraisal process.

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