Leadership Gaps are Critical to Address NOW!

Ostrich-head-in-sand3It is time to get your head out of the sand and address leadership gaps. Most companies are way behind with pent up need from years of recession driven penny pinching for training/leadership development needs. Coupled with the mass exodus of baby-boomer leaders, the need to invest in the development of leaders in your organization has never been more important.

Many senior leaders, eager to exit and turn over the reins, are frustrated and troubled when they realize there are no “ready” internal candidates. 86% of executives surveyed identified their leadership shortage as “urgent” and/or “vitally important”. Most professionals are initially hired and brought into organizations as technical experts or individual contributors and, if they perform well, get promoted into management positions. However, high performers don’t magically transform into effective leaders. The capacities list required for effective leadership is long and complex. Emotional intelligence, credibility, the ability to positively influence, coach, lead change/teams, facilitate effectively in conflict and earn trust are challenging skills to master. Great leaders are not born, they are molded – by experience, mentoring/coaching and skill development training.

In my coaching experience, it’s a rare professional that can’t benefit from leadership, coaching and team development skills. Times have changed, and so have the demands, expectations and skills required for leadership success.

Senior executive involvement (aka sponsorship) is necessary for any leadership development program to succeed. Expecting managers to execute organization change without adequate resources and change management skills is magical thinking. And, few companies today have internal HR or on-staff training professionals with experience, credentials and the required skill set to lead an effective leadership development program. This is a time to bring in outside expertise.

Here’s the kicker; the millennial generation (those being asked to take the place of retiring baby boomers) are projected to make up 75% of the workforce in 2015. Yet 2 out of 3 company leaders surveyed see themselves and their organizations as “weak” in their ability to develop millennial leaders. Millennials are strongly influenced by innovation, purposeful work, future growth opportunities and having balance between work and their social needs. In contrast, traditional old school managerial thinking dictates learning by the school of hard knocks and “be grateful you have a job.” In today’s workplace, the old paradigm simply doesn’t work. Millennials respond best to a boss that supports their career development with training, targeted feedback/coaching and new opportunities. And they are not afraid to change companies to find it.

My strategy suggestions:

o Think big picture. Develop a business plan with HR for learning, training and leadership development. Allocate a reasonable budget per leader for this support—typical allocations run between $2 to 10K per leader. Have internal HR professionals work directly with managers to specifically identify cross training, mentoring and alternative development opportunities and expectations.

o Re-vamp the performance review process to include top down alignment of coaching/mentoring and leadership development plans. The expectation of leaders at all levels (emerging, mid and senior) should be a priority goal of developing those under them.

o Invest in experts; those with real experience, value and credentials excited to share their experience. An expert can customize an in house training program to address company specific leadership expectations, core values, team/culture challenges and collaborate to identify coaching, mentoring or training options most appropriate for your organization and budget.

o Walk the talk – and stay in touch with the staff throughout the development process. How you behave, recognize and reward-including who gets promoted and mentored (or not) really does matter.

Maureen Moriarty (aka Workplace Coach), Path to Change, offers Executive Coaching, consulting and training for leadership and team development.
Contact info: 425 736 5691 or Maureen@pathtochange.com