How to build a pipeline of leadership talent

How to build a pipeline of leadership talent

Did you know that an average company turns over roughly one-quarter of management positions each year? The loss of even one leader can be costly, given that about 50 percent of replacements fail within 18 months. Our research shows that successful organisations take a critical few steps to build a robust and strategic leadership pipeline through:

  1. Alignment  to strategy, values, and business goals

These organisations hardwire their leadership strategy and pipeline to the company’s strategic priorities. The system focuses all levels of leaders on understanding strategic and organisational priorities, creating a clear line of sight from strategy to leaders’ work and building the critical skills that will enable them to achieve organisational goals.

  1. Integration of the development architecture

A key feature is to differentiate the requirements for leaders at different levels and to provide development over the course of their careers, linking structured learning and development activities with talent management processes like succession planning, job assignments, and performance management. The most successful organisations ensure leadership excellence across all functions, geographies, and levels by balancing attention to high potentials with reliable processes to develop all leaders. These systems develop learning communities and networks among multiple levels of managers and across the organisation, and facilitate cross-functional collaboration, build management involvement into system design and bridge the gap between learning and real work.

  1. Clear expectations for leaders at all levels

Many organisations develop competency models to provide a coherent, unifying framework for the leadership development process and provide regular feedback to leaders. Leaders at all levels understand how the organisation defines leadership, the behaviours that support the organisation’s values and strategy and the organisation’s expectations for leaders at their level.

  1. Making the leadership strategy and pipeline a priority

In the most forward-thinking organisations, executives provide visible support to these efforts by providing resources and financial support for and visibility to leadership development activities and by defining the capabilities leaders must have in order to execute strategy now and in the future. They champion talent management processes and make all managers accountable for talent development.

The development of leaders at all levels in organisations should focus on specific areas to drive effectiveness, agility, and strategy execution now and in the future. Leaders should know and manage their strengths and their weaknesses, and demonstrate strong interpersonal skills and a high degree of emotional intelligence. Moreover, highly successful leaders communicate effectively with a wide range of stakeholders, continuously test and learn from their own assumptions, and have the adaptability and agility to handle the pace and stress today’s work world puts in their paths.  They must continuously stay in front of changes in the business environment, setting direction and constantly adapt and change.

Most organisations today compete on knowledge. This means the only way to build commitment and capability in their people is to engage employees in three ways: heads, hands, and hearts. Leaders must create work environments that engage, encourage a sense of ownership, and accelerate learning and development. Today’s leaders are more involved than ever in teaching, coaching, and creating growth opportunities for people in order to build a workforce that is a source of competitive advantage and the best organisations take time to design a leadership development process that builds the skills to execute strategy and align leaders to the business context according to the needs of their role.


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