If a key executive member—including you—left your organization tomorrow, would your company crumble? The long-term success of a business depends on the sustainability of leadership. If your company is currently successful, it can be assumed that your leadership program is effective. However, many companies do not invest in the resources to prepare future leaders for future roles.
Developing a strong leadership pipeline can help your organization not only achieve immediate success, but also ensure that success over a longer period of time. To help grow your leadership strategy, consider these five techniques.
1. Mentoring and Coaching Initiatives
Coaching and mentoring are crucial components of an effective leadership pipeline. That’s why it’s important for your strategy to engage existing senior leaders so that they devote time to nurturing potential leaders across your team. Establish a mentoring program and make it responsibility for leaders to coach employees through both formal and informal mentoring sessions.
An effective coaching program emphasizes the connection between the coach and the student. Your leadership team must first take the time to connect, to understand, and to build trust and respect with their team members. Once this is established, it’s far easier to share industry insight and expertise, instruct on important organizational operations, and share role-specific hard skills.
2. Leadership Development Programs
Implementing a leadership development program allows you to cultivate leaders from within your organization so that you have a stable of prepared, talented individuals who can step up when need be. While many organizations have programs that either cater toward senior-level employees or require team members to apply for consideration, think about offering leadership training to your entire organization. When you keep the program open, you create a pool of candidates to fill open positions.
For front-line professionals with no direct reports, leadership training can help develop individual potential and overall leadership strength for the future. These programs drive focus, improve efficiency, and maximize individual contributions to the organization. For mid-level leaders, or those who display focus and confidence in their assessment and coaching techniques, leadership programs help develop their own capabilities in order to tap into the potential of those they lead.
3. Real-World, Real-Time Experiences
On-the-job training programs should be supportive and challenging. To truly groom leaders, offer them more and more responsibilities over time and challenge them with new situations and assignments. Much of what individuals learn happens in real time, so encourage them to work through situational problems to experience real-life workplace situations. Ultimately, it’s your executive team’s responsibility to offer team members the necessary training and resources to be successful.
4. Regular Feedback
According to a Gallup study that measured how Millennials want to work, regular meetings and consistent feedback improve engagement and performance. The survey found that 44 percent of Millennials are more likely to be engaged when their manager does meet with them on a regular basis. Despite these benefits, only 21 percent of Millennial workers meet with their managers on a weekly basis. Your team members want feedback; it’s up to you to provide it.
Relevant, on-the-job training can mirror real-life situations. Without feedback, however, employees are left to assume that their behavior is acceptable. It’s clear that feedback is an essential motivator in developing leaders. Be aware that this applies to both negative and positive feedback. On one hand, a leadership team that does not correct poor employee performance can’t expect change. Conversely, without positive feedback, employees are not provided with the opportunity to flourish and grow.
5. Cross-Departmental Learning
Silos and turf wars impact even the strongest organizations. That’s why it’s up to your current management team to create opportunities in your leadership pipeline for different departments to work together. After all, executive leaders must actively engage with all employees. When departments collaborate and communicate with each other, they gain a greater understanding of the role of other team members and how they function, as well as a more comprehensive overview of how the entire organization functions.
Below are some ideas for cross-departmental learning:
- Team building events
- Peer mentorship
- Cross-departmental project teams
- Job shadowing assignments
Not only can cross-departmental exposure help future leaders understand your company as a whole, but it can inspire ideas for their own roles. This type of learning can improve productivity and ensure that individuals have the right amount of diverse work experience to step into leadership roles.