In Part 1, we showed how your current leaders are an essential asset in filling your leadership pipeline. We also introduced the Five Critical Capabilities needed by current leaders to develop upcoming leaders. In Part 2, using a real case study, we took a deeper dive into those Five Critical Capabilities: strategic talent mindset, talent identification skill, creating development opportunities, coaching skills, and interpersonal awareness.
Here, in Part 3, we discuss how to ensure the health and strength of your pipeline, by answering three questions:
- What is the status of your leadership pipeline?
- Is senior leadership aligned and bought in?
- Are key organizational levers aligned to create a culture that accelerates leadership development?
From our quarter-century experience in consulting with HR executives to help their leaders, here are the important things to consider in each question.
1. What is the status of your leadership pipeline?
This initial assessment is critical to identifying strengths and gaps in your leadership pipeline. This step can be time-consuming and requires a bit of data analysis, but provides essential information.
- Retirement: What percentage of leaders at every level of your organization are eligible to retire (or will be within 5 years)?
- Internal vs. external leadership candidates: What percentage of leadership positions at every level are currently being filled internally versus externally?
- Leadership talent strategy: Is a clear strategy in place? Do you have a retention plan for high potential talent?
- Robust succession plans: Are they in place for the most critical roles?
- Formal talent development programs: Is your organization relying too much on them instead of other critical components, such as sponsorship and assignments/projects?
After the assessment, consider these questions:
- What strengths and gaps did the assessment identify?
- What are the implications for your talent pipeline?
- Are there gaps that would directly impact the business strategy?
2. Is senior leadership aligned and bought in?
Senior leadership needs to review and understand the pipeline assessment. Improvements cannot happen without their buy-in—especially the CEO. Here are some suggestions for the discussion with senior leadership:
- Tie the results of the assessment into the business strategy. How does the data help or hinder strategy execution?
- Identify the specific pipeline improvements that need to be made.
- Don’t expect that they can figure out the answers on their own. Bring recommendations and solutions to the table.
- Identify what specifically you need from them and gain agreement. Schedule regular updates and keep the information in front of them.
3. Are key organizational levers aligned to create a culture that accelerates leadership development?
When leadership development breaks down, it’s often a symptom of a larger cultural problem. To engage all leaders in developing talent, CLG uses a proprietary analysis tool, DCOM® (Direction, Competence, Opportunity, Motivation). These four elements must be robust to assure real performance by everyone. If any element is missing or weak, the organization is seriously handicapped.
Direction — Do leaders recognize that developing leadership talent is their critical responsibility? This direction comes from the CEO and CHRO.
Competence — Do leaders have the skills and knowledge to develop leadership talent in others? It is important for leaders at all levels to receive support in the Five Critical Capabilities presented earlier. This comes from senior leaders and HR.
Opportunity — Can leaders quickly identify what is needed to accelerate development of individuals, and to pinpoint and remove obstacles to development? It helps to create development profiles for potential talent that identify opportunities for development experiences. This is the task of senior leaders and HR.
Motivation — Do leaders want to develop other leaders, and feel personal ownership? It’s critical that current leaders have enthusiasm for developing the leadership pipeline, and that they feel appreciated and rewarded for doing so. This is the role of the CEO and senior leaders.
Organizations need solutions—now—to address the gaps in their leadership pipelines. Unleashing the power of “leaders developing other leaders” can multiply the efforts of HR and talent professionals exponentially. If you want to dramatically improve the leadership pipeline, find leaders who see the potential to create a leadership “engine” and partner with them to utilize this simple but powerful approach.