A question for you….
What would you consider to be one of the most critical people issues facing businesses today?
Wow, that should make you stop in your tracks!
When I spend time with managers of businesses I consult with, and the subject comes round to challenges they face in everyday business, the subject of talent (or lack of it) always raises itself.
When we assess what people do for our organisations, most managers would agree that they often cry out for their team to make better decisions, take more responsibility or create more opportunities for the business to grow and expand. I often ask if this is part of their job description.
Even if it’s not, most managers still expect their people to help grow the business. This requires a specific mindset that isn’t often acknowledged below management levels.
Forbes magazine published an article entitled ‘Successful organisations need leaders at all levels’ and it covered this principle in detail. It states that the need for “leaders at all levels” is one of the 12 critical issues identified in the Global Human Capital Trends 2014 survey published by Deloitte University Press.
It pointed out that leadership “remains the No. 1 talent issue facing organisations around the world,” with 86% of respondents to the survey rating it “urgent” or “important.” However, the fact that only 13% say they do an excellent job of developing leaders at all levels means that this area has the largest “readiness gap” in the survey.
What specifically does ‘developing leaders at all levels’ mean?
Naturally, it involves encouraging people in non-management positions to start taking decisions that have a positive impact on results. This will ensure those people with the natural ability will start to be noticed. Their talents will become more visible. Their abilities will be shown to produce progress.
This is risky. It involves asking people to put their ideas forward when the instinctive response is ‘I don’t get paid for that!’ It means encouraging others to think outside their normal domain of responsibility. It does involve calculated risks in asking people to make decisions that will stretch and challenge them.
However, leadership is a mind-set, not a position. Anyone in any position can show leadership skills if they encouraged to do so and if they are given the opportunities to make choices. Robin Sharma talks about ‘leadership without title’ and he offers a clear perspective on how businesses can encourage their teams to build awareness of their potential to create value in everything they offer to their businesses.
Forbes goes on to say that the Deloitte team advises “Senior executives should create a culture that broadens the opportunity for leaders to develop in new ways. This means putting potential leaders in positions that stretch them beyond their current skill sets, and continuously coaching and supporting leaders so they can build their capabilities as rapidly as possible.”
Broadening opportunities….stretching current skill sets….continuous coaching and supporting. All these require a culture in your management team of openness and flexibility that encourages the potential in people who want to expand and grow.
But when this is carried out, when the culture allows team members to see what they have to do to raise their visibility, it builds excitement and passion that spreads throughout the people who really want to advance, develop and build leadership potential.
What does Deloitte suggest managers do? Here are some ideas:
Is it worth the time and effort, you may ask. Well, that’s probably the wrong question. Rather, we should be asking, what will be the result with my team if I don’t encourage leadership at every level?
Let me ask you…
If you don’t have this critical people issue covered, or have plans in place to cover it soon, expect your people to vote with their feet.
Head of Training
Originally published: 31 March, 2014