Employers turn to leadership development when they anticipate or discover a need for strong leadership candidates. Typically, employers begin to implement leadership development programs for three main reasons: to increase their organization's internal pool of leadership candidates, to reduce gaps in their current leadership members' skills, and to develop new leaders more quickly. But while many employers know what a well-developed leader looks like, the process of developing talented individuals into new leaders often becomes elusive.
Leadership development is not simply a process by which employers make people better leaders. At its core, leadership development begins with onboarding as a component of the organization's culture. To be successful as a strategy, organizations must focus on the development aspect - ensuring that there is a holistic plan in place that recognizes and fosters the growth of individuals' skills, strengths, and talent. Developing leaders is not something that employers do to individuals, but an ongoing series of meaningful events engaged with individuals. Cultivating leadership becomes the responsibility of both the employer and the individual employee - their collaboration ensures that developing leadership becomes the focus of an individual's career trajectory, rather than filling a particular role at a particular time. Ultimately, leadership development should be an ongoing future-oriented strategy that focuses on maximizing employees' potential.
A successful leadership development program begins with onboarding talented new hires. When new talent is brought into the company, the organization should already have a development plan and process in place that employees can engage with and begin to plan their own career paths. Personal assessments and development plans are excellent resources that enable employees and employers to gain mutual insight into the employee's best fit at the organization, and to take steps toward developing the skills and experience needed to fulfill advanced leadership roles in the future. Career development programs are ideal for facilitating employee development plans and assessments, and in combination with mentoring programs, significantly contribute to increasing employee engagement and improving retention.
Mentoring and Coaching for Leadership
Retention is crucial to leadership development efforts - employers need to keep employees long enough to develop leaders who understand the organization's culture and processes. Having a well-developed mentoring program improves retention from onboarding onward by providing employees with the guidance and support they need to develop their talents and experience with the organization. When mentors provide structured feedback and notes on the progress of their mentees, employers gain significant insight into the development and leadership potential of their talent.
Integrated mentoring and coaching programs enable employers to identify, select, and develop high-potential employees as suitable candidates for leadership succession. Career development, mentoring, and coaching programs can all work in tandem to provide employees with the resources to drive their own development, the guidance and support in developing their talents and expertise, and the proper coaching to become exactly the kind of leaders employers need.
Every leadership development strategy should be supported by the organization's entire talent development strategy. Integrated talent development software facilitates leadership development from the time a new hire is onboarded, continuing through the development process, and ultimately filling crucial leadership roles. Employers and employees can utilize online software solutions to mutually benefit from a well-planned leadership development process:
Begin Development with Onboarding - mentor new hires and provide them with software tools and resources to plan their careers and direct their own development.
Engage and Retain - career development and mentoring programs work in tandem to keep employees engaged with the organization as they develop their talents and experience.
Mentor & Coach - provide employees guidance and support, track their progress, and identify candidates to be coached for leadership roles.
Strategize Succession - select developed internal candidates from a talent bench strengthened by a well-supported leadership development program.
Fill Leadership Roles - promote talented and developed individuals from within the organization who can fulfill crucial leadership roles and support the organization's ongoing leadership development process.