If your company lacks a clear strategy for moving talented employees into leadership, now’s the perfect time to establish one. A 2014 report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) confirmed that as Baby Boomers retire in droves, their former employers are busy grooming younger employees to become new leaders.
Companies of all sizes are spending an average of nearly $500,000 annually on the task of growing talent strategically. Regardless of your budget, there are steps you can take to identify and develop leaders in your organization.
A Climate of Support for Future Leaders
Stepping into leadership can be hard. One way to foster a climate of support for aspiring leaders is to give senior leaders visible roles that go beyond the basics of hiring and project management. Ask current leaders to act as mentors, lead seminars, and provide feedback to their teams. When employees see some of what’s involved in leadership, they’ll be more inclined to step up and learn more.
Three Factors Impact the Move Into Leadership
Not everyone on your team is destined to lead, nor does everyone wish to try. That’s why you’ll need a method for selecting the best candidates to become leaders.
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The same SHRM study from above laid out three key factors to keep in mind when planning your leader development program. (A note on finding leaders—it’s best to conduct your search over several years rather than trying to choose candidates in haste.)
Foundational Traits – The foundational qualities are pretty hard and fast and can be tough to change over a candidate’s career. These include complex problem-solving skills and the ability to empathize and work well with a team.
The Growth Factor – Unlike the foundational qualities of leadership development, the growth factor leaves you a lot of room to help your employee develop. Some of your team will leap at the chance to grow into different job duties or more responsibilities. But for others, even some who show strong foundational traits, you’ll need to help them discover and appreciate their own potential areas for growth.
The growth factor ties in with your company’s supportive environment for developing leaders as well as the individual’s personal interest in the specific area of leadership. Both of those can be cultivated over time to facilitate the development of talent.
Career Dimensions – This factor covers anything from the candidate’s background to the training and education that make him a likely candidate to lead in your company. Does she tend to take on extra tasks and complete them with excellence? Does she work consistently to grow and enhance her mastery of relevant skills or seek to broaden her understanding of other aspects of your company’s business? All of those career dimensions are good indicators of a candidate’s leadership potential.
The mass Boomer exodus from the job market is not necessarily bad news for leadership in your company. By encouraging current leadership, looking for willing new leaders, and cultivating a supportive culture for candidates, you can grow talent strategically and successfully over time.