The first stage is building the motivation and energy for your leaders to engage in the personal development journey; providing a vision for the future and helping them see how they can contribute. This might be via bringing future challenges to life, supporting them to identify their own goals and ambitions, and aligning the two by designing a clear call to action for leadership in your organisation. Without this critical phase, it’s unlikely any development intervention will gain the momentum to succeed.
With motivation in place, you can focus on the activities that help individuals understand their current strengths and development areas and where they need to focus to build the leadership skills you’ve defined for the future. Interview-based assessments can help leaders reflect on their own and other’s views of their capabilities, whereas simulation-based approaches can go further in giving them the opportunity to explore their skills in a new environment.
As the future becomes less predictable, helping leaders build competence in a variety of environments becomes ever more critical; and waiting for these opportunities to appear organically becomes risky. Taking a structured approach to identifying or creating stretch opportunities that build breadth and agility will grow a more flexible leadership population, ready for the challenge when the environment shifts.
Plan purposeful development pathways, making use of all available tools and learning opportunities to help individuals quickly get to where you want them to be; training, mentoring, job rotations, all these and more can be used to accelerate growth but the key is to align these to a clearly agreed path and then enabling the individual to stay on track. Digital tools can help nudge leaders to stick to their learning commitments and the right infrastructure of organisational support can ensure that learning transfers across different environments .
We know the biggest proportion of development typically happens on the job, so if you’ve robustly identified potential, then you can feel confident appointing those individuals into bigger and more challenging roles. Once there, it is important to continue supporting the development journey and helping leaders reflect on the behaviours and skills they are building as they continue to grow; coaching can be particularly effective here, enabling individuals to embed the learning for tomorrow even as they deliver today.