Capitalizing on the use of time
seems to be on everyone’s
agenda. Students are advised to accelerate their studies for early
college admissions. Boomers are urged to accelerate their savings for
retirement. And organizations are focusing on accelerating the
development of their future leaders.
Leadership development for
The ramp-up time for creating a
ready executive can take years.
That’s why we’re seeing so much interest in
“high-potential” programs. Companies want to know:
- How do we identify
- Should we inform them of
- What features should we
include in a high-potential development program?
- What organizational factors
influence the success of such programs and which tend to hinder them?
A survey launched last week by
the Institute for Corporate Productivity
(i4cp) will provide insight into those questions and more. It also
explores the tools that high-performing organizations (HPOs) use for
developing executive leaders and the budgets associated with such
programs. If that sounds like some valuable insights to have,
participate in the survey and receive a free summary report once the
results are collected.
Approaches to executive
Research from i4cp shows that
most organizations invest in leadership
development programs, often with a standardized curriculum, with three
primary goals in mind:
- Build bench strength and
- Anticipate and develop
that will be required in the future
- Retain and motivate both
potentials and solid careerists
But interest also runs high in
determining the most effective
approaches for developing talent for executive-level positions of
vice-president and above. For these, more meaningful developmental
experiences may be in order:
- Inclusion in critical
- Working on special project
- Participation on global task
- Cross-business unit
- 2–3 year
A suggested leadership
While there may not be a magic
formula for the sequence of leadership
development events, a June Harvard Business Review article by Michael
D. Watkins laid out a suggested timeline of developmental activities
and assignments for moving talent from management-level to leader-level
- Early career experiences
include working on cross-functional projects, international assignments
and getting a feel for a wide variety of business environments, such as
start-ups, high growth or realignments.
- Mid-career approaches might
include a senior-level role, leading an acquisition and gaining
exposure to key external constituents.
- Readiness for a major
promotion might be indicated following a formal executive development
program and then placement in a small, successful unit.
Accelerating the path to
The reason leadership
development needs to accelerate is that change
continues to accelerate. According to i4cp’s
Agility Study, accelerating change and growing inter-dependence are
continually raising the bar for the level of agility needed for
sustained competitive advantage.
An effective strategy for
accelerating the development of leaders is
one that provides a combination of structured opportunities for formal
learning along with unstructured opportunities for experiential
learning. DDI’s study on The CEO’s Role in Talent
Management: How top executives from ten countries are nurturing the
leaders of tomorrow includes this quote from Michael Critelli, previous
CEO of Pitney Bowes: “The best kind of development is putting
someone in a job that tests them where they haven’t been
But i4cp’s recent
Talent Management in the Trenches study reports that even HPOs may not be doing all they can in that
regard. Just 38% of respondents from HPOs said their firms are
providing appropriate development experiences for those with the
potential to move into key roles, whereas 95% of respondents from HPOs
said they should be providing such experiences.
Clearly, the stakes are high
for developing an executive team with deep
leadership capabilities, and doing so more quickly than peer
organizations can help provide and sustain a competitive edge. This
Sunday, you’ll have one extra hour to begin that acceleration.