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Leadership Development The Skills Farm

Published on June 6th, 2017 by Adrienne Saunders

So you want to ‘grow your own’ leaders. You want to improve the skill set of existing managers – and you’d also like to nurture the next generation of leaders in line with your business needs and culture.

But where do you start? Here’s a blueprint for putting a programme together…

Define the competencies you are looking for

Above all else, leaders are defined by their ability to influence others. This influence can be an extremely powerful tool: It shapes the behaviour of your people;

  • It determines your culture – and ultimately…
  • It affects the way your company is perceived from the outside

Precisely what you teach can shape your entire organisation. So this leads to a key question: which competencies should your leadership development programme focus on?

To answer this, go back to your mission statement and core values. Each organisation is different, but the areas to focus on may very well include the following:

  • How to inspire
  • How to achieve buy-in and provide reassurance as the business faces change
  • How to get the best out of team members
  • How to tread the line between getting employees to give their best – while avoiding destructive internal competition
  • Effective delegation
  • Great customer service

In other words, what skills should be developed in order to advance your company’s mission? These competencies should provide a blueprint for your entire programme.

Establish selection criteria for the programme

Having worked out what the programme is for, it’s then a question of determining who it’s for. Individuals with the following characteristics are worthy of special attention:

  • Willingness. In other words, do the participants actually want to lead? Very often, the shift upstairs into management is the default progression route in a company. But why do we assume that everyone wants to be a manager or a leader? IBM and Google both have alternative paths on offer for those who want to progress but who don’t want to directly manage others (IBM Fellows and Google Individual Contributors). Running in parallel to your leadership development programme, it may be worth offering an alternative path along these lines.
  • Existing managers. If people have been moved into management roles without any specific leadership skills training, these should be first in line for programme participation.
  • Up and coming talent. In effect, you are building a leadership pipeline; ensuring a flow of fresh leaders as and when your company needs it. So during employee appraisals, it may be worth bringing up the possibility of leadership development as a matter of course. Providing junior employees meet core criteria (e.g. specific experience requirements, length of service, commitment to the business, essential occupational competency) and providing they are willing to explore development in this area, these are the people worth earmarking for the programme.

Content: make it relevant – and make it contextual

The best development tends to be experiential – i.e. learning by doing – while backed up with an understanding of theory and key concepts. Delivered in stages, the programme might consist of elements of the following:

  • Role playing with feedback
  • Case analysis
  • Mentoring
  • Shadowing other executives
  • Coaching and counselling
  • Attending forums with participants from outside the organisation
  • External evaluation

It’s also vital for the organisation to continually ask itself, “How well is this programme working?”. It’s a case of going back to the programme goals and checking that the content remains capable of helping to deliver them.

Obviously, much of this is going to be beyond the core competency of the company. That’s why it’s essential to get the right external help from a programme provider who really ‘gets’ what you are trying to achieve.

Get in touch with us to explore the many options available to you.

 

The slick Training Needs Analysis that The Skills Farm ran uncovered some valuable opportunities for us and some immediate areas for development. We are now embarking on a well designed training plan that will help my team support our clients and meet our objectives. I have been very impressed with Skills Farm and their insights. I would thoroughly recommend them for any organisation wising to improve their client engagement.

Alex HawesCEOAmsys Ltd