The Importance of Emerging Leaders
Emerging leaders are strong performers who have the potential, ability, and aspiration for higher-level management roles. They’re the ones who show commitment to the organization, exert influence, and demonstrate a willingness to step up and take on more responsibility.
Identifying and developing these emerging leaders is vital. As demand intensifies, and hiring remains a challenge, it’s going to be more important to retain high-performing talent. Strong leaders are key to organizational success, and organizations should understand who their emerging leaders are and commit resources to develop them.
Last week we outlined 8 characteristics of emerging leaders. In this blog, we’ll also take a look at some of the methods organizations can take to develop and retain emerging leaders.
Why work at retaining and developing emerging leaders? In short, because emerging leader qualities are those that evolve and grow. It's important that your potential leaders receive training at all levels, even from the time they are new employees.
Planning for a successful future . . . today
As the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) environment around us continues to challenge businesses, we need more excellent leadership. Read any study or report on top issues for CEOs and you’ll notice that at the top of the list are the lack of leadership talent and gaps in leadership skills.
At FlashPoint, we see organizations taking note and intensifying their focus on emerging leaders as a result of strategic foresight.
The challenges of the coronavirus pandemic have also changed the way we are seeing organizations building that pipeline of leaders and retaining high-potential employees.
A survey of 1,000 L&D professionals by the Chief Learning Officer* shows that many companies expect the traditional classroom will be used as a part of a blended learning experience along with virtual instruction, coaching, and mentoring.
Organizations can tailor this blended training with the specific type of learner in mind. This opens up endless possibilities for training a wide variety of emerging leaders, many of whom are completely comfortable with digital learning.
Leadership Training for Emerging Leaders
Developing emerging leaders should be tied to your strategy and the unique challenges of your business. First, answer: What are your goals? If you are seeking to solve a lack of bench strength, for example, consider developing a program that enables promotions into successively higher roles.
If you are struggling with high-potential turnover, think about engaging emerging leaders through cross-functional opportunities to broaden their understanding of the business.
When presenting emerging leaders with development opportunities, it’s important to understand your environment, analyze the leaders’ needs and desires, recognize your organization’s unique leadership challenges, and respond accordingly.
In an ideal scenario, you’ll retain your emerging leaders through great in-place development opportunities for where they are now, as well as opportunities to prepare for future roles. This begins with establishing leadership competencies, encouraging self-awareness in emerging leaders by using a leadership assessment, and creating an individual development plan to develop the emerging leaders’ capabilities. Providing group coaching or engaging them in a business case project can also help emerging leaders to practice vital cross-functional influence skills.
If you’re not quite at this level, however, just start listening and observing.
- Ask yourself: Are there people in the organization who are asking to take on projects that are beyond their role?
- Find ways to give those leaders work that will help them demonstrate their competencies.
- Allow them to participate on collaborative projects, encourage them to suggest new ways to do things, and reward innovative ideas.
If your organization is not structured or prepared to promote quickly, then increase experiences and exposure and check in to make sure the emerging leaders understand that there are opportunities to grow in other ways.
Regardless of your approach, one thing is clear: you must start now.
The business environment is quickly evolving and the need for strong leadership will be more important than ever. Healthy companies must invest in future leaders to build a pipeline for continued success and retain the leaders that will be critical components of that success.