Nov 11, 2013

Leadership Continuous Improvement: Where to Start

Continuous improvement in leadership is not a necessity, it is imperative to the sustainability of your organization. In a study by Deloitte titled Talent Edge 2020: Blueprints for the new normal, the following findings show how significant building leaders has become in terms of both development and retention:

  • More than seven out of ten (71%) executives who participated in the survey expect to increase the focus on developing high-potential employees and emerging leaders.
  • Many companies are also engaged in an effort to fast-track the development of new corporate leaders: 64% of survey participants plan to increase their focus on accelerated leadership programs.
  • More than six in ten (64%) have a high, or very high, fear of losing high-potential talent and leadership.
  • More than eight in ten (81%) of companies with retention plans are increasing their focus on emerging leaders and 78% of firms with plans in place are strengthening senior leadership priorities.

Building a leadership pipeline and focusing on leadership development is no longer confined to succession planning, nor can it be restricted to the C-level. Today’s flatter, global organizations need effective leaders at each level of the organization.  And, the place to start that will impact the entire organization the most is the frontline leaders.  Why?  Notice what a 2010 study by the DDI Corporation revealed of newly promoted leaders:

  • Only 42 percent said the transition to a first-time leader was easy.
  • Only 55 percent said they possessed the leadership skills they needed when they first stepped into a management role.
  • Only 62 percent felt prepared to take on this role. (Refer to my previous post Leadership Osmosis)

Frontline leaders have a significant impact on business. In most organizations, these leaders are the fulcrum of numerous employee management practices, including hiring, employee development, and performance reviews — all central drivers of culture, engagement, motivation, and productivity.

And, what about employee engagement and retention?  Research has also shown strong correlations between effective leadership and employee engagement and retention. Strong leadership can positively impact both of these. Conversely, ineffective or poor leaders are routinely near the top of the list of reasons why individuals choose to leave their organization.  People don’t leave companies, they leave managers.

So, the impact on your company of teaching, training, and mentoring frontline leaders is huge!  So is not doing anything.  You’ve seen the cartoon that surfaces occasionally where the question is asked, “What happens if we train them and they leave?”, followed by the retort, “What if we don’t train them and they stay?”  Just imagine all the costs and lost opportunities when a company fails to continuously improve their leaders from the frontline on up.  Beyond that, imagine all the benefits when you create a learning and continuously improving organization from bottom to top.  How differently it feels!

Would you enjoy having the peace-of-mind knowing you have a backlog of talent ready to assume leadership positions at each level in your organization?  Would you like the feeling of stability with the knowledge that your frontline leaders have the skills to drive top and bottom-line results?  When you think about it, maybe you’ll wonder exactly where to start the continuous improvement process with your leadership, should it be the frontline or at the very top?  Why not contact me to discuss the best place to start the process.

Creating life in forward motion,

Dr. Edward Lewellen