Building a Talent Pipeline from New Recruits to Leadership

(light music) – 86, 87% of the companies we surveyed in the last several years say that leadership is their number one talent issue, and the funny thing about that finding is that year after year after year, and I’ve done this for almost 15 years, the same data keeps coming up. So you have to ask yourself why is it that around the world global 2000 companies continuously have a problem developing leaders, and I think the answer is that building leaders is a never-ending, difficult problem. You as an organization and you in the HR function have to participate in the development of leaders from the bottom, up. Every individual performer, individual contributor who gets promoted into a supervisor and managerial job isn’t really taking on a new job. They’re really taking on a new profession, and most of them don’t understand the concepts and the principles of managing people and the fact that they’re now contributing to the organization through the people around them, not through their own expertise anymore, and so that, starting at the first level, and 40 to 50% of managers are first or second line managers, has to be continuously taken care of and build what we call or I like to think of as a leadership system or a leadership culture inside the organization. Now, unfortunately, the leadership development industry, and many of you probably know of this, is filled with stuff to buy. There’s books. There’s courses. There’s programs. There’s tools. There’s assessments. There’s thousands and thousands of things, but my estimate is about a 14 or $15 billion industry of products you can buy that are supposed to help you build great leaders, but they only really work if you put them into a leadership system in your company, and what our research has shown is that, of all the things you do in HR, the one that will have the biggest impact on your company is, in fact, your efforts to help the company build better and greater and a larger number of leaders because the leaders are running the company, not you. Most of you know leadership is not something you teach. It’s something you learn, and you learn it over a period of time. So you might go to a new course on new management, or you might go to a course at a business school on leadership and come back to the office, and all of a sudden, you’re all excited about these new ideas. They really don’t stick with you until you have the opportunity to understand and use them in the real world, and most leaders will tell you is they are continuously learning, and you’re continuously being challenged by new people problems, new organizational problems, new business problems, things that came up that test your personal journey on what you will do and how you will react in different situations. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that this model is better than this model, and of this assessment is better than this one ’cause there’s a lot of them out there, and they all have statistical validity under different conditions, but I think what our research shows and what my experience shows is that you have to put a significant investment into leadership during good times and bad in order to really deal with this issue. Our research shows that what we call high-impact leadership companies, companies that outperform in all the leadership metrics, including, by the way, employee engagement and performance because ultimately great leadership leads to great performance and engagement, are spending three to four times as much money per leader as the average. Leadership development has to be driven by the leaders themselves, not by only you and HR. If your CEO says to you I expect you to build me a better leadership pipeline, you need to push back on him and her and say great, I’ll put together the strategy. You need to be a part of it. The top leaders in your company have to be involved in the selection and assessment, in the development of leaders, in the coaching, in creating the right culture, creating the reward system that you want people to use, and basically continuously socializing the fact that we value leadership in the company, and we’re going to build great leaders. I’ll give you one example of this. So there’s a very well-known retailer in the northeast that’s one of the most successful, financially-known retailers. I won’t mention the company name. They take leadership so seriously that when you join this company, and you go into work in one of these stores out of school, early in your career, even if you’re working part time when you’re in high school, they’re going to say to you if you stick with us through your career, we will move you into a store manager, into a specialist manager, into a regional manager over this period of time, and we will proactively move you from place to place and give you the necessary development and coaching you need to move into these different jobs, and they run that company in a way that, when they open a new store in a new city, they make sure they have the right leadership positions, and they parachute in leaders from other stores to make sure they’re recruiting people into this leadership pipeline. So they start this discussion about what your career is going to be like and what you’re going to be asked and expected to do very early in the process. One more point I’ll just make on leadership, one of the biggest issues we now face is this definition of what is a 21st-century leader? What is the leadership model of today versus the past, and there’s no question that the research is showing that high-performing leaders today are global leaders. They have global experience. They’re culturally aware. They are collaborative. They know how to bring people together and bring teams together in this networked organization I talked about earlier. They are coaches. They aren’t necessarily directive leaders. The traditional leader that many of us maybe heard about in the ’60s and ’70s, that still exists, but it’s less important and less powerful in most organizations today. They learn, and they understand how to develop people, and they have a practice, and they develop what we call followership. They look at their leadership role as one of creating followers, inspiring people to follow them, and one of the principles that I know I forgot who said it, but you know you’re a great leader when you have followers, and that’s really one of the definitions of leadership today. So there is a shift in what a great leader looks like that you need to be aware of as you think about your leadership program. (light music)

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