There is a blind spot at the executive level when it comes to Leadership Development. More often than not, a company’s top performers get promoted from within to fill vacant or newly created leadership roles. But without being prepared for their new position, their upward career trajectory starts to level off.There is a common misperception that personal success will emerge as effective leadership. However, what we see time and time again is that individual accomplishment doesn’t inherently translate into being an influential and trusted manager.
When it comes to leadership development, we know that millennials are especially hungry for it. They don’t want “training,” where most of the 170 billion of professional development dollars are spent each year. They want opportunities to advance their careers, not just gain better technical skills. In fact, in a recent Deloitte survey, 71% of the respondents who reported they are likely to leave their current job within 2 years said their leadership skills are not being developed.
High-level communication skills, especially a commitment to listening and learning, are essential characteristics of the most trusted and effective leaders. However, when promoted, the “training” new managers go through is often centered around learning the company’s systems and processes, not the tools needed to most effectively manage and develop others. Effective communication skills and listening intelligence aren’t intuitive to most and don’t always come easily, but they can be taught. So why is it that we wait until people take on leadership roles to give them the leadership communication training they need?
What if we were to turn leadership development on its head and focus on improving communication for every individual at every level throughout the organization to create the company’s next generation of leadership? If we want our top performers to be ready to assume leadership roles when the need arises, we need to arm them with the communication skills that set them up for success as they move upward inside of the company. If the people who are newly elevated into management positions already have the skills to manage and develop others, just imagine the time, money, and stress companies can save during cycles of change and growth.
If every member of the organization knows how to make clear requests, delegate, set up systems of accountability, have challenging conversations, and effectively give and receive feedback, then everyone in the company, regardless of their job title, is a Leader.
So I ask, what are you doing to cultivate your company’s next generation of leaders?