How to Better Develop Senior Leaders

How to Better Develop Senior Leaders
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Extraordinary Times Require Extraordinary Leaders
Too many organizations leave their leadership development programs up to luck and chance. And then those many organizations are disappointed in the quality and capability of their senior leaders to lead in complex times. If you want your senior leaders to perform at their peak, you need to be intentional and purposeful in the way you invest in their development. You need to know how to better develop senior leaders.

Leadership Development Is Not Working
To succeed, leadership development training programs must equip leaders with the knowledge and skills to impact people and business performance.  Yet, a recent Leadership Study found that 97% of organizations surveyed cite significant leadership skill gaps.  A whopping 40% of those surveyed say that those leadership skill gaps are acute.

This does not surprise us.  But how to proceed?

The Most Effective Approach to Develop Senior Leaders
In general, there are two proven methods used to build leadership strength:

  • Individual executive coaching
  • Peer-based action learning leadership programs

We believe that one complements the other and that a hybrid approach is the most effective in achieving real behavior change. Just as with hybrid vehicles, different motors work better at different speeds and when you can switch from one to the other at the proper time you achieve a win-win in terms of energy and fuel efficiency.

To Better Develop Senior Leaders, Start By Assessing Specific Needs
When potential leaders transition from their current role to that of a senior leader or are being asked to lift their performance, they need to acquire a new perspective and new skills. They often need to move from a hands-on approach to an approach that inspires others to implement the strategy; and they frequently need to work in a more visible and complex arena where they are the focus of attention, the role model, and the motivator.

The key is to first assess the specific needs of your target leaders so you can wisely target gaps and design practical individual development plans to ensure their readiness to lead and thrive. For high stakes roles, consider using leadership simulation assessments. Then you can move ahead with your two-pronged hybrid plan.

  1. Individual Executive Coaching
    Based upon the belief that every leader can improve their performance and the performance of others, executive coaches work one-on-one with leaders to identify areas for improvement typically in the areas of performance, promotion, or perspective.

    They provide real-time feedback and support to focus on making progress toward specific leadership development goals. And they check in regularly to encourage the right behaviors and to shore up areas for improvement.
  2. Peer-Based Action Learning Leadership Programs
    There is no substitute for coming together with peers in a well-designed learning environment. Action learning allows leaders to gain insight into what it takes to lead, to build important relationships with executives and peers, and to move strategic initiatives forward. Action learning leadership programs are most effective when offered over a period of six-to-twelve months so participants can practice new skills, get feedback, debrief, measure results, and try again.

The Bottom Line
Do not look for quick or cheap fixes.  Senior leaders face enormous challenges. Invest in and plan for their development so that they are set up for measurable success.

To learn more about how to better develop senior leaders, download The Top Skills for High Performing Leaders

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