Creating a Culture of Leadership Development

At Amtec, we frequently remind employers of the importance of developing your company culture. Your culture holds a crucial place in the hiring process because it can attract or repel candidates, depending on how you’ve chosen to shape it.

One of the most important facets of a company’s culture is succession planning and leadership development. According to Roger Trapp, contributing author to Forbes.com, organizations should intentionally and continuously be forming a leadership development pipeline, not just by giving leaders a selection of training programs, but by creating a culture of greater opportunities that provide new ways in which leaders can develop. Trapp asserts that every organization needs to put potential leaders in positions that stretch their existing skills, simultaneously coaching and supporting them so they can rapidly become capable leaders.

But is it possible to stretch potential leaders too thinly? Recently, a friend of ours, a highly intelligent knowledge worker, decided to leave her current position at a very large manufacturing company because they take leadership development too seriously, in my opinion. Or perhaps the problem is the way they go about it. Every two to three years, just as a manager becomes somewhat competent in his current discipline or field, the company mandates that HR move him or her to another department to learn new skills and technologies. This continuous upheaval in middle and upper management leaves employees like my friend feeling unknown, unappreciated, and endangered. The company has created a culture that rewards surface knowledge and flexibility but penalizes specialized skills and knowledge. The result has been increased employee turnover, particularly in upper management.

Despite such overzealous policies, for your company to succeed, leadership development must be a key component of your culture, however you choose to implement it. One reason for this sense of urgency is that growing numbers of older leaders are choosing to retire. As organizations grapple with rapidly changing technologies and new disciplines, Trapp says, they are falling behind in developing Millennials as leaders. The result is what he calls the “readiness gap,” because developing leaders doesn’t happen overnight.

“Creating strong leadership programs for leaders at all levels – as advocated – requires sustained and substantial investment. At the early stages in the leadership pipeline, potential leaders need to acquire core skills in supervision and management, with frequent assignments to build on this base. Later on, they need to understand all the business functions before becoming executives, when business and product strategy will be central, along with experience of driving change within large teams. Companies need to understand that there are no shortcuts to building broad and deep leadership teams.”

Is your organization set up to develop leaders and plan for succession? Have you budgeted time and money to invest in creating future leaders? Does your culture include a focus on providing potential leaders with opportunities to stretch their skills? If you’re not currently building leaders, read Trapp’s article and suggestions for how to start now.

Want to speed up your search project? Create a clear job description!

Do you need help hiring your next potential leader? Call us at (714) 993-1900 to enlist the expertise of a skilled recruiter.

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