Why Not Develop Leaders When They Start Leading?
Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about emerging leaders. I truly love working with executives. However, late last year, my company launched a number of leadership development programs with its focus being on new and emerging leaders. Funny thing is that I love the work. And we have changed the model. The manager is in charge of the development. We are developing and coaching in real-time, providing practical, customized solutions. No off-the-shelf programs, no text books, no one-size fits all. In fact the Center for Creative Leadership’s Future Trends report on leadership development delves deep into the issues and challenges of leadership development today. Simply put, nothing much has changed in 30+ years, yet the whole world has. Something has to give.
Heart and Soul of Your Company
Shortly after launching the programs, I soon realized that these particular folks are the heart and soul of the company. They are doing and managing most of the day-to-day responsibilities, and are in the deepest trenches of doing most of the mission critical work, day in, and day out. If all goes well, many of these same managers and leaders will be either running the company they are presently with or another sometime in the near future. To be a significant influence to this level leader is an honor and a privilege. My team and I also have the opportunity to really learn and understand the needs and goals of these talented future leaders so that we may help them identify their authenticity through business excellence. It informs us, inspires us, frustrates us, and makes us want to do better. Best of all, it has personally inspired me to continue to develop more programs of this kind.
Value-Add to the Executive Team
Another benefit that I really appreciate is that I’m feeling more confident in working with executives. I know what’s going on in the nucleus of their organizations, and am more valuable as a executive coach when I know what makes their company tick. Most leadership development time spent is as you would expect: The majority of time and resources is usually being provided to individuals at the highest levels, with less of the same being spent at the lowest levels. However, I would love to see this standard change. As Morgan McCall of Executive Ask says, “It makes little sense to being executive development processes at very senior levels as many companies do. Instead the process mush start early.”
Invest Up Front
Why not invest more on the front end? Think about it. We start school at an early age and continuously educate our youth throughout high school. Those who are fortunate go on to college, and many even go on to graduate school. That is a lot of education and development! Thereafter, once those graduates start working in business, technical skills are honed; but unless you are at the top levels of management or leadership, development and coaching can be fairly light to non-existent. Moreover, research data suggests that employees often leave companies due to poor management or lack of career development.
Why not turn the leadership development pyramid on its head? Invest in people from the start, and heavily! Continue what was started in school. By the time an individual reaches senior management, they will be so well-trained and developed as a leader, that the continued investment should be minimal. Sure, it’s more complex at the top…bigger, more challenging, and global. Business consultant Ram Charan takes us through all the levels in the Leadership Pipeline. But if better management and leadership development work is done from the start, leaders will be better prepared for the organizations they serve.
I’ve been reawakened these past few months and am grateful to the emerging and new leaders my firm is now working with. I can’t wait until most, if not all, of these leaders are providing a serious ROI to the company they are with; or running their own companies, soon, very soon.
As the CEO & Founder of East Tenth Group, Michelle leverages 25 years of business and experience as a strategic advisor and executive coach to help drive actionable people solutions and provide practical insights on business strategy to senior leaders. she and her team and are fiercely committed to the development and growth of people and companies because we believe that when people thrive, business thrives.