You need a leadership development program because it is, actually, the management team’s responsibility to invest in, develop and grow the firm’s next generation of leaders.
Your Leadership Development Program
Begin with constructing a solid framework with which you can develop the next generation of leaders in your firm. Then identify the attributes and capabilities of the existing leadership team, and work from there to develop a program that builds on this foundation. In creating a leadership development program, make sure your business has a clear vision and stated goals. It seems obvious, but unless your future leaders understand the vision and strategy of the business, they are unlikely to engage and develop their skills in a way that contributes to the success of the business overall.
Align Your Expectations
Next, align your expectations of future leaders with the overall objectives of the firm. To do this, you must identify the behaviours that you want to reward, and articulate this to your future leaders. A simple way to go about this is to ask yourself: what do we want our future leaders to accomplish?
You need to let your next generation of potential leaders develop their skills. Give them enough freedom to explore, experiment and experience some struggles, but still be reined in safely, if necessary. Identifying potential candidates for your leadership development program can be difficult. Most businesses tend to do this in different ways. However, identifying the employees who bring the most energy, ambition and success into your company is a smart way to focus your development efforts.
You should be conscious that the best employees don’t always make the best managers. A good way of assessing this, is to allow potential future leaders to shadow a manager for a day or two. It will tend to become apparent pretty quickly, if the employee has the potential to become a manager or not.
Finally, it is important to communicate. If you have identified an employee as a potential future leader in your firm, have a conversation with them to understand their career development aspirations. Some people want to develop and move up in the firm. Whereas others may be content with their current job and may have no desire to take on additional responsibility. You can only develop people who want to engage and be developed.