A Quick-Start Guide to developing emerging leaders
This short guide is designed for those of you looking for concrete ways to start developing emerging leaders now. Before you engage emerging leaders in leadership development, make sure to identify emerging leaders based on their characteristics and develop programs targeted to their leader level.
Engage emerging leaders to solve business problems.
Action learning engages emerging leaders in solving real-life organizational challenges. This helps them quickly develop and apply new skills while benefitting their organizations at the same time. For instance, ask an emerging leader to lead or participate in a project that focuses on improving employee engagement, improving an inefficient process, or designing a technical training program for new hires. In the process, that leader will strengthen skills such as systems thinking, problem solving, financial acumen, change management, etc.
Create opportunities for experimental, on-the-job learning.
Emerging leaders like to be stretched. This is particularly true for top talent. Organizations can attract and foster top talent by providing an environment in which leaders can experiment and grow. Give your emerging leaders a challenging assignment that falls within their capabilities, for example: leading a global, cross-cultural work group, managing a large-scale organizational change initiative, or overseeing a high-pressure assignment with visibility to senior leaders.
Use group coaching so leaders can learn from one another.
Group coaching gives leaders a shared experience and the opportunity to work together and support each other in accomplishing their goals. In group coaching, the participants take a more active role in leading group discussions (through rotational leadership), while the coach provides support and assistance as needed. Group coaching participants could include intact teams that want to improve the way they work together or newly promoted leaders who can learn and benefit from other new leaders’ experiences.
Encourage informal mentoring to work on just-in-time challenges and broaden exposure.
What is mentoring? Simply stated, it’s experienced leaders sharing their knowledge with new or emerging leaders. Mentoring programs should be tailored to address the specific needs of the business and emerging leaders. For instance, a mentoring program could match first-time leaders with high-performing leaders at their same level, match high-potential emerging leaders with mentors one or two levels up, or pair an emerging leader with a near-retirement team member for knowledge transfer (multi-generational mentoring).