How to Develop Leaders Who Are Bold Thinkers

A cartoon leader with symbols of success all around him

As you seek to nurture the talent that can step confidently and effectively into leadership roles at your organization, do not forget to see that these high potentials develop the underestimated characteristic of bold and creative thinking.

We all know how important it is to build leadership bench strength to plan ahead for succession in the most critical roles. Every forward-thinking and responsible executive looks to the future. If these current leaders truly have the interests of their company at heart, they will include in their talent management strategy the grooming of top talent that can succeed them.

Change is the name of the game in today’s global marketplace. Sometimes the change is under a leader’s control. But often stuff happens that is out of their control…a technological breakthrough that makes your offering suddenly obsolete (digital cameras nearly sunk Kodak that depended in great part on selling film), a fickle change in styles (cargo pants are now oh-so-passé), a downturn in the economy (the 2008 market crash). For a company to pick up the pieces and survive after major change, leaders have to think creatively, respond quickly, adapt to the rapid change, and solve the problem at hand. Companies need thought leaders who have the ideas and the courage to move forward. They need to be up to the challenge of changing direction and crafting a new direction.

The key is to expose your high potential talent to as many different situations as possible to test their resilience and ability to sort through priorities in an increasingly complex environment. Help prepare them for leadership by:

  • Assigning them to projects that require solving real business problems, not just manufactured scenarios.
  • Placing them on cross-functional teams of current thought leaders so they can see what it takes to innovate and flex to handle whatever unexpected challenges arise. Give them those models of thought leadership and the opportunity to work with employees from all facets of the organization.
  • Giving them the support of mentors who can walk with them through the challenges leaders must face and conquer.

They will learn by doing and you, in the meantime, will have an opportunity to observe who is able to both think boldly and then follow through effectively.

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