Nov 01 2017| Leadership | Values
by Peter Woodward Associate
Inspiring leaders can greatly enhance an organisation’s potential for success. Why? The most successful leaders challenge their colleagues to strive for the best, supporting and guiding their teams toward challenging goals and outcomes.
So current leaders have the responsibility to continually seek potential leaders with a mission to sustain and develop our organisations at every level.
So how do we find these leaders and empower them to drive the business forward?
The Leadership Role
We need leaders to help us identify, understand and refine our purpose; clarifying the rationale of why we do what we do.
However if we are to define who should lead our organisations in the future then we have to drill down in a lot more detail.
We need to identify our particular organisational drivers and what kind of leadership will be required to ensure that critical missions are achieved.
So, where to start?
Looking to the Future
Most organisations will have a strategic planning process.
This normally involves a staffing plan but seldom considers what leadership attributes and capabilities will be required.
Organisations need to build a common view as to what will be required; not only for the short term but also the for the future.
We cannot assume that the next 10 years are going to be the same as the last 10 years so even stable businesses need to plan for the unexpected. We are currently dealing with some very real examples:
Let us also consider technology:
It’s clear that future leaders will need to be accomplished change masters.
Considering Societal Values
It is evident that changes in societal values are occurring at speed, with an increasing distrust in previously respected institutions.
Retaining trust in leadership at all levels will be vital; role model behaviours will be required.
‘The Weinstein phenomenon’ is a topical example.
What effect on working relationships will be the fall out of the #MeToo campaign? The ripples from such events could impact on current workplace cultures even here in Guernsey.
Future leaders will need to increase their emotional intelligence quotient to respond effectively and must be capable of ensuring that a positive culture is reinforced throughout the organisation.
The Leadership Toolkit
On top of the required development of vocational or professional skills required by a changing world there are significant qualitative challenges in leadership style.
Let’s consider some of the processes that can match your future leaders to these needs.
The One-Shot Review
My experience informs me that a diligent and frank assessment of current leadership strengths and weaknesses is necessary.
This is not to dwell on failure but to explore how critical events might have been influenced by different actions, or calculated risks might have been taken rather than just staying with the status quo.
The Appraisal System
Most organisations have such systems in place. They are typically coupled with an individual development planning process.
Our experience of such systems is that most are too short term and too limited in driving longer-term leadership development.
To rely on this process alone to identify future leaders and to map their development is seldom sufficient.
Three New Approaches
It seems to us that organisations should put in place other mechanisms that become part of the organisational fabric.
This is one of the most powerful tools to identify leadership strengths and areas for development.
As we ask the questions, in a blame-free environment, we begin to understand what went well, what key attributes and strengths contributed to success and what is replicable and repeatable for future success.
This is another critical process used by many hi-tech organisations.
Individuals in broad specialisms are ranked in terms of their current contribution to the organisation and their potential for the future with an emphasis on future leaders
I have seen this used very effectively, however, in recent years some US companies have used this process to identify the bottom 10% of their workforce and then pursue aggressive “de-hiring”.
This has discredited those companies where this has seemingly become their prime purpose for the process.
This a primary tool in the identification of leadership capabilities. While there is no ideal profile, we can use these assessments to aid long-term coaching and personal development.
So now you’ve identified your future leadership requirement what is the clay they will be made from? Let’s focus on the millennial generation and generation Z.
The Millennial Generation
Typically born between the early 80s and the mid-90s this generation is now starting to enter middle and in some cases senior leadership roles.
The website ‘LiveScience’ <insert hyperlink? https://www.livescience.com/38061-millennials-generation-y.html> listed some of their key characteristics in September 2017 as the following:
Millennials need to know why they do what they do (Simon Sinek)
Tim Elmore of the Huffington Post identified some of the characteristics of Generation Z.
In summary, the age of deference is dead.
How we empower them will need to take into account these generational trends.
Empowerment and Development
Empowerment is based on the idea that giving employees skills, resources, authority, opportunity and motivation will increase their satisfaction and competence.
Delegating decisions to the lowest competent level in the organization and holding them accountable for their actions, will contribute to their success.
We need to consider what empowerment means in our organisation and how constrained we are by policies, procedures and the current culture.
Employing the Toolkit
Again there are many tools in the toolkit.
For example, Process Mapping focuses on where decisions are made at any stage of the process and at what level in the organisation these decisions be taken.
The States of Guernsey have been using this process extensively to assist in their definition of new Target Operating Methods (TOMs).
One major benefit of process mapping is a reduction of ‘Managing in the Grey’. If roles are full of such issues, then the need to request authority from above becomes greater and stunts effective lower-level leadership.
Another tool is Career-Pathing. This is a systematic approach to career development, enabling employees to map multiple career path scenarios, review job competencies and evaluate skill gaps.
However, as a practical tool for everyday use, I would advocate the use of the Traffic Light Model. This stresses boundary definitions and reporting disciplines with the aim of maximising the Green go-ahead signal.
Retaining Future Leaders
I think we all understand that employee retention is about more than money.
Considering non-financial elements, Senior Management needs to have a strategy with multiple components.
Think about how effective your recruitment process is in attracting future leadership talent.
Consider these next steps after recruitment:
So your retention strategy can be multi-faceted.
If you do not already have such a strategy, then I would strongly recommend you review what might be appropriate for your organisation.
I think it is vital to engage with this issue; organisations are judged by the quality of their leadership and with good reason.
If we fail to develop leaders at all levels in our organisations, then we will not be change ready, and your workforce may not see you as an employer of choice.