The Productivity Blog

Nine Priorities of Executive Leadership Development

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executive leaders
Many organizations are challenged to find ways to accelerate leadership development. They're seeking ways to build their organizational capabilities in innovation, agility and a global mindset. To address this challenge, i4cp formed the Executive Leadership Development Exchange, a research working group of organizations dedicated to understanding how high-performance organizations approach executive leadership development differently than other companies.

As the group's first forum approached, facilitator Lisa Danels, a leadership and organizational development expert and former vice president at MetLife, held a series of phone interviews with representatives from participating member organizations to learn more about their biggest priorities in regards to executive leadership development.

As you can see from the following word cloud, the interviews confirmed that there's a lot of thought directed to the development of top talent.

word cloud

Top priorities

While in Denver for the group's inaugural meeting, the elite group of professionals from large organizations expanded on their initial set of critical issues surrounding executive leadership development, pointing to the following nine as their top priorities:
  • Provide broader training to leaders
  • Develop those identified as high-potentials
  • Create a culture of innovation
  • Embed new leadership competencies as business strategy changes
  • Increase diversity of leaders (gender/race)
  • Create global processes
  • Sustain behavioral change
  • Implement innovative learning
  • Measure and provide impact to the organization
The concept of sustaining behavioral change well after a leadership development initiative ended was one that really resonated with the group. Organizations spend time and resources in identifying talent development programs to strengthen leadership capabilities, but unless those capabilities are used to change behavior in a way that has a positive impact on business results, the investment loses value. Suggestions on sustaining behavioral change included having dedicated time to reflect, using storytelling effectively and ensuring buy-in by the executive team.

Top challenges

Executive Leadership Development Exchange members knew that simply verbalizing their priorities wasn't enough. They needed to be realistic about the challenges they would face in bringing those priorities to life. Another facilitated group discussion solidified a list of nine challenges the group felt they should be prepared to respond to:
  • Operating in a matrixed environment
  • Nurturing sponsorship after original buy-in
  • Operating in a decentralized organization/legal entities
  • Producing when too much is being asked of us
  • Moving people across functional disciplines
  • Identifying what types of leaders we need
  • Finding time to develop people when they are so busy
  • Having leaders slow down and be more reflective
  • Funding - when economy shrinks our funding gets pulled
Of these challenges, the one that generated the most discussion was the issue of sponsorship. All participants agreed that C-suite buy-in was an absolute necessity for creating an executive leadership development program, but the more subtle issue involved continuing to nurture that sponsorship as the initiative progressed. Ideas included establishing a team of champions for each initiative and taking time to identify not only the champions but also the blockers among stakeholders.

Exchange members will be creating a vision of how best to accelerate executive leadership development in the future. In the meantime, we're interested in hearing what you have to say. What do you think is the most effective way to sustain learning after an executive leadership development program?

To learn more about joining the Executive Leadership Development Exchange, contact us.


Comments

After solid executive sponsorhip, I think the next most important factor is an environment analysis. Does the work environment to which the leader must return support the transfer of what they learned? If not, the learning effort will be scrap.

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