Effective Leadership Development Programs
A variety of recent studies have shown that U.S. corporate executives have grave concerns about their companies’ ability to meet today’s leadership needs. After years of grappling with how to boost employee engagement and retention, improve management, and build a meaningful culture, they have come to the realization that leadership development programs are essential for their continued growth and success. Many can thus now be found scrambling to acquire or otherwise put in place such initiatives, with the precise type of leadership program that is “just right” left for each of them to figure out.
Going on the predicate that while a few individuals are born with leadership skillsets, the vast majority of leaders have to be reared and nurtured. And while many companies have thus concluded that overlooking the value of cultivating their own in-house, in-bred talent can be a critical mistake, the problem is that whenever saving money becomes a priority—often times at the first hint of an economic downturn—these programs are among the first to get cut.
This new awareness is nevertheless built around highly inspired teams that are focused on a new architype of management and led by a breed of younger, more globally-attuned leaders. This paves the way for employees to feel more connected to the business and can transfer winning ideas from one section of the company to the entire enterprise.
The Makings of a Successful leadership Development Strategy
Organized and Sustained Courses: A one-hour online seminar offered on a sporadic basis won’t cut it. Instead, there needs to be a well-structured and unremitting course, usually given by an established business leader acting as their coach and mentor over a long period of time.
Alignment with Business Objectives: In view of its never-ending cost-saving strategies, a company needs to identify a clear line between its development programs and organizational outcomes. The company that does best in this regard is the one that has preset drivers for offering the leadership initiative—e.g. to drive its growing global footprint, or to mentor its workforce’s younger generation.
Culture-Based Leadership: It is said that behind every successful leader is a vibrant culture that engages and energizes employees and, for the most part, that culture is commonly defined and shaped by the leader. Successful companies have leaders who know how to develop the beliefs, behaviors and practices that enable their culture to effectively drive their growth strategies.
A Pipeline of Leadership Talent: For a company to have a development strategy that actually impacts its business favorably, it must develop a pipeline of leadership talent at all levels. This becomes all the more vital as workforce shifts occur and senior leaders retire, taking with them an entire world of accumulated knowledge and experience.
A range of Development Resources: Participation in formal learning programs needs to be supplemented with small, focused and supportive leadership groups, in-role development opportunities, diverse coaching and mentoring initiatives, a variety of cross-functional assignments, individualized special projects, and other dedicated curricula and field leader-training run by thought leaders and expert practitioners.
Tools for Competencies and Assessments: Vague and subjective descriptions—such as someone being likeable and creative, or “due for a promotion”—create the risk of missing out on true talent. Instead, a high-potential employee needs to be identified through competency tests that provide valid and objective views of his or her potential. The employee can then be targeted for leadership training, with additional assessments to follow on a periodic basis.
Tomorrow’s Leaders in the Energy Sector
America’s energy industry is going through a significant transformation as it retools for the nation’s low-emissions future. This involves a plethora of environment-friendly policies and technologies that have to be cost-effective, reliable, and sustainable over the long haul, something that can hardly be achieved with nonintegrated makeshift initiatives.
In an industry where the only constant is change, the specific challenges faced by companies that are ahead of the pack in the renewable and clean-emissions industry are numerous and far reaching.
10 Energy-Industry Leader Competencies
Here are certain competencies that companies (particularly) in the clean and renewable energy sector believe that their future leaders need to:
- Work on filling the gaps in their own skills, particularly in the areas of technology and business
- Nurture, uphold and use professional relationships—including feedback—to boost their own career
- Be self-aware of strengths and weaknesses and work on areas that need to be improved
- Be resourceful and decisive—they need to think strategically and make the right decisions under pressure
- With humor, modesty and personal sensitivity, put others at ease so that one-on-one relationships could develop and thrive
- Positively impact those with whom they work and interact, solving employee-related problems quickly as they arise
- Improve their own ability to lead teams and individual employees while at the same time coaching and mentoring others
- Work on their ability to delegate effectively and broaden employee opportunities
- Provide a never-ending flow of cross-sectional experiences and learning while demonstrating a respect for varying backgrounds and perspective
- Walk the line between work and private life effectively so that both are adequately cultivated
In a major study conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership, one interesting finding had it that leaders in the energy sector ranked poorly on “building and leading a team and confronting problem employees.” In other words, surveyed individuals in leadership positions were found lacking in the interpersonal skills area.
Another area that also drew attention indicated that the same survey participants were not gaining sufficient functional orientation to sustain their own development and ability to face future challenges.
The Center’s recommendation for both weakness areas was for their Energy employer-organizations to spend more time and effort on fostering leadership development mainly by providing managers with learning and performance support on a recurring ba