The art and science of selecting and building the future leaders of your organisation is an investment that not only secures the present but lays the foundation for a thriving and sustainable future.
Whilst outside hires can bring new energy and expertise, it’s important not to overlook the talent within existing teams, nor the ability to nurture and grow your people with a strategically planned talent pipeline. The opportunity for promotion is not only beneficial for retention and motivation, it can be much more cost-effective when managed well.
Set a clear shared vision
The first step is defining and communicating a compelling and inspiring vision. This ensures everyone is working to a shared goal and enables you to identify the diverse skills and capabilities needed to achieve it. You can then craft a leadership team with the skills needed to guide the organisation toward shared goals.
Forward-thinking organisations look beyond seniority and tenure to identify individuals who display a combination of skills, adaptability, and a passion for personal and team growth.
- The willingness and capability to step up and fill critical roles during challenging times shows responsibility and proactivity. Asking your people about their long-term career ambitions provides insights into their desire for growth and leadership and helps align junior staff with pathways to career progression.
- Assessing how individuals react to failure and pressure is crucial; true leaders demonstrate resilience, learning from setbacks and using them as opportunities for improvement.
- A keen eye should be cast on individuals who not only excel in their current roles but also demonstrate the capacity to inspire trust and influence their peers.
- Good communication skills entail not only the ability to convey ideas concisely, but to actively listen, empathise, and adapt communication styles to diverse audiences.
Even with all these boxes ticked, new leaders need support to successfully transition and make meaningful impact in their new role, addressing any weaknesses with upskilling through mentorship, training and KPIs.
Setting your people up for success
- Promoting talent from within comes with unique challenges, particularly when new leaders are tasked with managing former colleagues. Courses such as Managing Your Mates helps address the particular challenges of setting boundaries, communicating expectations, and resetting relationships within this new dynamic.
- Setting expectations and providing the tools needed to navigate challenges and uncertainties as they arise helps set new leaders up for success. Courses such as Manage Change Effectively and Risk Management can be helpful in providing tools and strategies to engage and motivate teams during transitions.
- Leadership is not confined to making strategic decisions; it involves understanding and managing emotions. Leaders with high Emotional Intelligence possess the capacity to recognise, understand, and manage their own emotions, and those of team members.
Often seen as innate, it can in fact be developed. Programs such as Developing Your Team, and short soft skills courses enhance leaders' self-awareness, empathy, and relationship management skills.
- Effective communication is paramount for leaders in any field. Leaders must articulate a clear vision, inspire confidence, and foster collaboration. This comes naturally to some, but it is valuable to build on these skills through courses such as Communicating as a Leader, where individuals learn principles of effective communication, gain insights into human behaviour, and acquire tools to convey messages persuasively. Courses also provide practical experiences, such as public speaking or group projects, allowing individuals to refine their communication abilities in real-world scenarios.
Lifelong learning and support
- Mentorship plays a pivotal role in this process; experienced leaders can offer valuable insights, guidance, and wisdom to those navigating the complexities of leadership for the first time. Mentees gain access to a wealth of knowledge, enabling them to make informed decisions and avoid common pitfalls.
- Coaching complements this support system by providing personalised guidance tailored to the individual's strengths and areas for improvement.
- The provision of opportunities is essential for honing leadership skills. Offering challenging projects, secondments, and exposure to diverse experiences allows emerging leaders to test and expand their capabilities.
- Constructive feedback helps individuals understand their strengths and areas for development. A supportive environment that encourages continuous learning and growth empowers new leaders to navigate challenges with confidence, ultimately contributing to the overall success of the organisation.
- Finally, lifelong learning. Professional development should be individualised, tailored to the areas an individual needs or wants to work on. It is also most effective when self-led. Courses such as Development as a Leader helps build the self-reflection skills and forward planning to identify and plan areas for improvement within leaders, and within their team.
Building future leaders requires a strategic and comprehensive approach combining education, experience, and ongoing development. By embracing these principles, you can ensure a pipeline of capable leaders ready to steer teams toward a prosperous and resilient future.