Our Leaders of Tomorrow

Who are our next generation of leaders – who is going to step up and take the reins?

 Lead In, Lead On: Leaders and Culture

One of the key issues that I continue to note is that many companies are not adept at identifying the gaps in their business. This includes gaining a genuine and methodical understanding of leadership practices and effectiveness in the organisation. It is very difficult to solve an issue that is not identified or put another way, a question unasked remains unsolved. Non-awareness can be due to various reasons often cultural, political or personal. In a broader, strategic sense this lack of identification can be seen in the outcomes and sub-cultures born out of poor leadership. Leadership development is a theme explored in a recent article in the InsideHR magazine titled, The Best leaders: Few and Far, Born Not Made.

A significant leadership shortage is looming over the world…Leadership is in crisis. Baby boomers are retiring and fewer Gen Y’s want to step up to the plate, creating a massive gap. Quality leaders are now hard to find. We have some data here on 3000 Australian leaders and 50 percent of the leaders in our study are creating environments that are demotivating for people.

If identification and subsequent action is not a deliberate and discussed corporate goal, then other seemingly more critical focus areas will be followed instead. Denial of leadership ineffectiveness in the first place means that businesses ignore the existing issues and not enable future growth in individuals and culture as a result.

Part of the problem is that there are too many leaders who just don’t measure up.

Another related issue is the mismanagement in effort and action for those leaders who are not capable of effectively leading and developing their teams. It is a corporate and social responsibility to ensure we provide the platform, support and opportunity for leaders to contribute and grow in their roles. In my experience this is most commonly performed poorly, with the effort to change and address challenges seemingly too difficult, or is not performed at all.

I have been in positions where individual employees have been dismissed based on poor, ongoing performance and behaviour – some who are long-term employees. When this is discussed at senior levels, there is acknowledgment that these team members had been a ‘problem’ for many years in some cases. My response in return is always, if this was a known issue, then why was no action taken to either develop or remove them? To date, there has never been a reasonable response to this question.

Denial, ignorance and/or laziness to act only lead to dismal results. Is this something you are prepared to accept…or do you wish to alter the outcomes by changing your contribution? A challenging question to answer and even more so to exploit. It is an important query however, reflecting the tytpe of issue highlighted by poor leadership practices and a culture that accepts varying degrees of mediocrity.

Creating a regular process to identify actions for the development of your leaders is an important step. This may form part of a bi-annual review, linked to other formal appraisal or assessment processes. A quarterly review of the progress, goals, contribution and direction of all team members could act as a catalyst for discussion.

A focus on how results are achieved as well as focusing on the end results themselves adds more value to the process. How we get there is as important as the outcome, enabling relationship-building, trust and process improvement throughout the process, amongst other benefits. When we focus on the outcome only, there is a tendency to cut corners and drive aspects of culture that ignore many necessary positive aspects…and often drive negative elements of culture also. This is just as important when focusing on leadership as a contributor to and receiver of cultural growth initiatives. The InsideHR article highlights 5 key leadership trends:

1. A shortage of leaders means there will be a gap in middle managers.
2. Succession planning is likely to be the hot issue ahead.
3. The best companies will be out recruiting future leaders.
4. The shortage of leaders will shape HR strategies.
5. There will be a heavy focus on leadership training.

A willingness to acknowledge the gaps in leadership and developing a culture of learning and growth, along with succession planning steps is a useful next stage. The challenge for many organisations is their willingness to spend the time and funding to understand the existing situation and culture. Considering the current status of individual leaders and the organisational leadership position should be part of the review process.

A blind hope that culture and leadership will somehow ‘look after itself’ is naive and poor business practice. The effort and discussions at senior levels that drive culture and direction can be difficult. However the benefits of developing strength in leadership now and for the future can be seen and felt…now and in the future.

How does your business stack up?

2 Comments

Filed under Employee Engagement, Leadership

2 responses to “Our Leaders of Tomorrow

  1. I think that the increased complexity means a lot for the way to lead and leaders today have to change mindset when it comes to complex issues. If you have to deal with uncertanty and selforganization you have to have special leadership competecies. If you need to understand that everything changes faster than you can prepare yourself for the changes you have to develop courage and curiosity. You can not know the future exactly so you have to use your intuition. That is out of reach for a leader who want to measure everything. Not that measurements is wrong but it is no good in front of complexity.
    Jane blichmann
    CEO

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  2. Nigel Priseman

    Great read. For me I get very frustrated when public/private companies thrust specialists into leader/management positions and expect them to excel. This is the fault of the company and the individual promoted and only leads that individual to overload, boredom, poor performance which in turn impacts the team they are leading. Please, leaders can come from anywhere, they might not be the best sales person, engineer etc, they could be the admin clerk who is quietly going about their work! Leaders are motivated to see positive change and lead their teams/organisations through difficult times and doing it with energy that keeps staff interested and wanting to stay in the team/organisation because of that leader. Leaders are not arrogant, they can also give you more areas they need to develop in rather than boast their strengths, leaders are reflective and are always looking for ways to improve themselves and make that difference. Leaders do not like the sound of their own voice as they know they have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Leaders seek to help employees ‘improve’ in their performance rather than look for faults in a way so the employee resigns or is dismissed as a leader has belief in his/her own team and what they can achieve. Finally a leader is a servant to his/her team, there is nothing a leader would not do him/herself in the team.

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