The typical C-suite includes leaders with standard titles like chief executive officer, chief marketing officer and chief technical officer. Yet, many companies are missing a critical leadership role — head of people potential.
Although over 80% of organizations believe it’s vital to develop leaders at every level of a company, only 5% have implemented leadership development at all levels. Leadership happens company-wide, and leadership development should, too. Focusing on employees’ potential and building their skill sets is crucial for business success.
Realizing the Importance of Leadership Development
Many companies ignore or deprioritize leadership development because they are playing the “short game.” They approach professional development as transactional skill building and focus on cultivating skills like time management, organization and delegation. But opting not to develop employee potential and choosing not to provide robust leadership training opportunities has consequences.
For example, transactional training leads to transactional leadership. Transactional leaders thrive in military operations or highly regulated industries. They’re not always a good fit for organizations that value creativity and innovation because transactional leaders tend to be more inflexible than transformational or participative leaders. They may oppose change and focus only on short-term goals.
By failing to provide leadership training, organizations may find themselves with more followers than leaders. While followers play an essential role — after all, you can’t lead without followers — they’re not leading the charge to try new approaches or create strategies and processes for other employees to follow. Followers generally aren’t rainmakers and innovators. They wait for permission to lead, and without training and guidance to grow their leadership skills, many lack the confidence to know (or risk) when and how to step up as a leader.
Other consequences of poor leadership development include high turnover, poor performance and lack of collaboration. These problems highlight the importance of playing the long game. Organizations must recognize the greater — and measurable — impact resulting from developing leaders’ self-awareness and emphasizing core soft skills such as empathy, emotional intelligence (EQ), grit and resilience, all of which contribute to outstanding leadership.
So how can organizations help employees gain more confidence and make a significant impact as leaders? By creating a role specifically dedicated to unlocking employee potential.
Implementing a Leadership Development Strategy
If you want to strengthen employee relationships, promote positive change, champion continuous improvement and achieve goals, your C-suite needs to add a new role: head of people potential. This role should focus on leadership coaching and training for all levels. Start with these tips for executing a leadership development strategy.
Keep it Simple
An organization should use a sustainable approach to help employees reach their full potential. Shortcuts don’t work when you’re building comprehensive leadership teams. Start simply by building a leadership pipeline with designated benchmarks at each stage. A plan of action clarifies the growth potential for all layers of an organization. By pairing straightforward direction with clear, plain messaging, leaders won’t struggle to evaluate results.
Don’t Underestimate Employee Potential
A true leader provides employees with the tools and resources they need to succeed. They take time to identify their employees’ unique skills and discover their capabilities and their passions. When leaders evaluate employees for their leadership potential, they can look at their employees’ levels of:
Good leaders appreciate their employees. Regular recognition and consistent feedback keep employees engaged and can help to decrease dissatisfaction that leads to attrition.
Ask your employees if they’d be interested in confidential one-on-one coaching. You might be surprised at how many would take advantage of the opportunity. Employees realize the substantial impact these opportunities can have on their careers by pushing them to be leaders who navigate complexity, take micro-risks and build greater trust in their own judgment.
Embed Leadership Development Into Company Culture
Developing leaders within an organization requires more than merely offering a selection of training programs. The head of people potential should encourage employees to expand their current skillsets, creating a culture that values professional development and broadens the opportunities for leaders to grow in new ways. To ensure those lessons stick, integrate the formal training into the company’s rhythm and supplement it with ongoing conversation and continued engagement. That includes committing time and resources to signal to employees the importance of training. Leadership development should be seen as a necessity, not a luxury.
Enhance Learning With Interactive Content
Want to achieve continuous engagement? Incorporate interactive content into leadership training. Interactive content creation platforms enable heads of people potential to create rich, engaging leadership development programs. It’s an effective tool because it invites learners to interact with training content and requires them to become active participants in their training. It’s more engaging than reading a lesson, taking a quiz and completing an online module.
With interactivity comes better completion rates and a better understanding of the material. An enhanced learning experience also adds a degree of fun to the learning process, which helps foster creativity. Creativity is important for growth and performance because it allows for better problem-solving, motivates employees and even reduces workplace stress. Many CEOs even credit creativity as the No. 1 factor behind their success.
All employees — regardless if they’re entry-, mid- or senior-level personnel — have something to offer. That’s why leadership development is critical for both morale and a company’s bottom line. Every year a company delays leadership development, it loses 7% of its total annual sales. So don’t procrastinate about creating a head of people potential role. It’s a significant opportunity to align leadership development strategy with evolving business needs and goals.