At the upper levels of every organisation, there are leaders whose direct reports are leaders in their own right. In most businesses, the latter are assessed for selection, succession, and above all, for individual development. Most development is achieved through structured experience and coaching, and it is ‘leaders leading leaders’ who can make sure it happens. Leadership assessment data is also a rich source of insight for senior leaders who need to build mutually productive working relationships with and between individual leaders and leadership teams.
Our experience of leadership development bears out the ‘70-20-10’ rule. The biggest source of learning and growth comes from challenging experiences; the next from ‘developmental relationships’ particularly coaching; and the smallest from formal education and training. Senior leaders, therefore, have a uniquely influential role in the development of the leaders who report to them.
Guided by leadership assessment data and supported by Learning & Development and Talent professionals, senior leaders can:
- Assign their leaders to roles that will benefit them and the organisation by making the best use of existing capabilities and exploiting the developmental potential of the role
- Carve out the special projects that will stretch their leaders in new ways
- View succession plans in a new light, seeking out unexpected paths and shifting the emphasis from ‘who is ready?’ to ‘what will get them ready?’, and;
- Play an active coaching role that helps each of their leaders make sense of working with new challenges
But assessment data can help with the day-to-day too. Assessment against a leadership framework focuses on the core attributes demanded by your business. And, even though you want to see common attributes in your leaders, each will express them differently while their unique personalities, values, and ambitions mean they’ll interact in distinctive ways with those who lead them and with each other. For a senior leader, there’s real value in a deep understanding – gained through assessment – of the leaders who are his or her direct reports.
- Data can inform the way leadership team members are selected, balancing strengths and weaknesses
- The dynamics within teams become easier to understand and manage as a result of understanding how individuals may react
- The senior leader has greater insights for building trust and addressing individuals’ needs, and;
- It provides the behavioural insights to help create the right environment for the acceleration of leaders’ development and to remove organisational roadblocks to mindset change
Finally, if ‘leaders of leaders’ are prepared to share their own assessment profiles with those they lead, it can pave the way for more frank and productive relationships with their direct reports.
Properly used, assessment data enables senior leaders to make a key contribution to the most important single dimension of their leaders’ development – experience. And it provides an additional tool for proactively managing interactions with and among senior talent.