Organizations often focus their time and resources on developing senior leaders rather than also having a professional development strategy for their new leaders. They think that sending their senior people to conferences, training opportunities or even offering coaching is where they should concentrate their efforts for their company’s growth. While I am a big advocate of providing learning opportunities as well as executive coaching to senior leaders , I am also a proponent of building an organization’s bench strength . That process begins with cultivating the leadership and relationship skills in emerging leaders. To build an organization's bench strength, there needs to be a focus on developing emerging leaders. Whether a firm is small, medium or large it is imperative to look to the future of its leadership pool. One organization I worked with had an exceptional senior leadership team but lacked a plan of who would eventually fill their shoes. They had managers and emerging leaders but weren’t devoting resources to growing their leadership skills. It’s not healthy for a company to forget about its emerging leaders. When that happens and the senior leadership group moves on, it can take a great deal of time to rebuild.
In order to grasp a complete picture of an organization’s leadership needs, it is essential to have a solid vision in place. How can staffing and leadership be put into action without knowing the “why” of a company and its priorities? To begin the process of creating a vision think about the organization’s:
Reach out to all stakeholder areas and take a hard look at new and fairly new leaders that have proven to be valuable contributors. Each area of an organization may have high performing emerging leaders and chances are that many of these new leaders have strong technical skills. Yet as senior leaders know, the leadership and relationship skills are critical to moving forward in one’s career. So recognizing the emerging leaders who show great promise is an important step.
There are many different learning solutions to developing emerging leaders so selecting several strategies may work best. Some of these learning opportunities may include leadership workshops, small group coaching programs, individual coaching sessions or attending an outside course. Some of the most critical areas to offer emerging leaders are: