At all levels we must focus on the succession of our future leaders and the transferring of knowledge, skills and behaviours to allow them to flourish as they take the next step in their career. Do you have a successful leadership program in place?
Internal leadership programs was a topic discussed on "The Power of 5" this week and in particular as to why, unfortunately do the majority of them fail or not produce the desired outcomes.
I have been fortunate throughout my career to have been part of some great development programs including having an executive mentor as I progressed from Trainee Store Manager to President. As I reflect back on the journey and the challenges at each stage, I have identified these 4 points as a must have for any internal program and what I believe attributed to my success.
4 Must haves for a successful program:
Dedicated fully transparent program and criteria for selection
Every person on the program and every employee in the organization must clearly understand the criteria for selection into the program and also the goals and outcomes of the program and participants. Many times have I seen employees hand selected for programs or assignments only to leave qualified and willing candidates shaking their head and wondering why.
Facilitated by an external partner
You may have a great training department or team, however a true leadership program that is designed to produce your next level leaders MUST be facilitated by an external partner. Not only will this remove any internal bias but it will also give your new emerging talent access to outside perspectives that will challenge them and strengthen their capabilities and your organization.
Measured - not just on performance metrics but by robust people measurement tools eg: 360 feedback, culture surveys
This group of future talent must be measured not just by the day to day KPI's eg: sales, but by strong, robust, highly recognized programs and or surveys. This program is not just about who the best sales people are, this is a highly strategic program designed to produce great successors and therefore should be measured that way. These reports should also be delivered and discussed at Key Executive and Board meetings.
Participants must have access to senior leaders and Executives eg: working committees
A big component of the program should be access of the participants to the Executive Team and ability to interact across departments. A possible short term secondment is ideal. Watching and assessing future leaders on how they interact in a cross functional experience is valuable learnings for both the participant and the organization.
Next time you plan on launching a leadership program at any level, I urge you to take a moment and consider addressing these 4 points.