What If All Your Senior Management left next quarter?
It is clear that there is an executive talent shortfall on the horizon, so how do you find all the qualified people you need?
Clever companies already have succession plans for present generation of leaders and current senior executives who will exit the day-to-day workforce within the next five to seven years. The question is this “Is there enough talent available to fill the posts via internal promotions or from headhunting outside?
No senior person in their right mind believes that there is a supply of skilled executives just hanging around for promotion to senior positions. Since 9/11 big business is running lean (and mean) aiming for the maximum in productivity. The dark side of having run very lean is that it is highlighting some one sided productivity advantages of running lean; one being that a lot of top talent has moved on to better things, but worst of all it has left behind a middle managementdisease which favours sustaining the status quo (job security etc.) over reaching for the stars. Not quite the pool of talent you want to recruit from to promote into the board room.
As many key executives begin to retire and move out over the next 5-7 years, many a business plan could sink, it could also really affect share values, bottom line growth and productivity. Now is the time to design a plan. If your company delays, your competition will soon love you for it – but in the wrong kind of way.
Look for Talent Inside
A shrinking workforce problem requires smart solutions both in finding new talent and inspiring in-house talent. Think diversity here: – widen the net and seek out non-traditional contenders, begin to actively develop existing talent and co-train them all to amalgamate new talent into the organization.
Get a coach!
Hire a leadership coach to perform a leadership pipeline assessment of all your management teams. There is some great potential in most companies that only requires some communication skills training grooming and mentoring for that potential to become tomorrows leadership.
Look for Talent outside.
Head hunt middle managers with competitive industry and leadership skills, contacts and knowledge. Integrate new management teams as soon as possible and promote task-focussed team building – this way you avoid ”us (oldies) vs. them (newbie)“ rivalry.
So where do you find talented people with pertinent knowledge and skills?
For one be careful not to try and re-create ”carbon copies“ of the senior players. Consider creating a ”brand“ new team of internal rising stars, go and head hunt some talent from your competition, but most of all ”redefine“ the job spec, change the nature or scope of the remit or the responsibilities of the role.
Break away from ”boundary thinking“ seek out some people from outside your industry. This broadens the opportunity and redefines the scope of responsibility – this in turn broadens talent recruitment pool – all of the potential diversity out there can only serve to improve your talent pool and inspire future growth.
There’s No Time to Waste
Companies that think ahead know that Leadership training is part of the price for filling positions. Most organisations have a training budget for management and leadership skills.
Leadership Training is imperative.
A leadership-training program is a truly worthwhile investment. Leadership training programs are by and large 12- to 24-month rotational programs that teach middle management both communication and influence skills and are coupled with functional and operational responsibilities via internal mentoring.
The best of these leadership programs focus on three aspects.
- Coaching which is a means to obtain and refine the skills a candidate needs to do their present job – i.e. coaching concentrates on getting people operating smarter not working harder and longer.
- Grooming is the most efficient way of really attaining the skills and attributes you need for the next level up in the ”leadership pipeline“– this is where the candidate learns to ”be & live“ as an executive – this is where ”job description“ leaves off and leadership role and function become a lifestyle path.
- Mentoring – Executive & operational knowledge comes through internal rotational mentoring, introductions to the circle of strategic relationships, entering into & creating strategic relationships, being introduced to key industry players, getting to know those in the ”power corridor“. Mentoring is where the ”leadership candidate“ flows through the ”leadership pipeline“ transitioning from; Managing Self, to Managing Others, to Managing Managers, to Functional Manager, to Business Manager, to Group Manager to Enterprise Manager. Anyone who has skipped one or more passages will impact the operational prospects of their direct reports and also most individuals further down the pipeline. Without this disciplined approach, they will not only fail to develop their reports and managers effectively, they also don’t fulfill the responsibilities that come with present and future positions.
Why do we need leadership programs?
Leadership programs enable companies to recruit beyond the traditional job-spec and it allows for a bigger pool skilled people available for promotion. Short tactical off-site and one time fix it meetings will not sustain a leadership team. Leadership development has to become part of a company’s core framework. It’s simple; education and training in a business imply that there is growth and that there are prospects for promotion. Those that aren’t serious about training will lose talent – usually the best and brightest go first. Regular and ongoing leadership & influence training programs and allow the company to integrate old and new faces as they get to know each other in a functional manner ensuring good prospects for attracting future talent, whether they be internal or even brought in from an outside company or industry.
ACT now. Weigh up your current team. Identify the gaps and weigh up the existing talent pool (if you still have one!). Establish the core competencies required (however think of going out of the usual run of things, look for talent with a difference). Develop a leadership program, which will attract talent, and ensure there is enough budget in yhe program for success. Then go and recruit superstar talent. Leadership programs send a powerful message to talented people looking for a place to excel.
Building a new team is incredibly inspirational, (it’s doing nothing that’s a recipe for failure). The rewards are truly wonderful and self-perpetuating. The result will be a diverse team of skilled, highly influential leaders and a clean pipeline of leadership talent for the next generations to come. It’s a tight world out there; your competitive advantage will come from new teams whose authority is fuelled by and attracted to learning and growth.
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