Co-authored by Melissa Mead
This is the second part of the 3 Myths of Leadership Development series. Myth #1 - "leadership is knowledge" considered how truly effective leadership development models go beyond knowledge transfer and focus on putting that knowledge into practice. In part 2 of the 3 part series, the myth about who should engage in leadership development is explored.
Myth #2 - Leadership Development Should Only Happen with the Top Leaders
When creating a leadership development model, the executive team, or c-suite, is typically the first to engage in the process. When it comes to leadership models, the conversations, strategic planning, etc. frequently stay at the highest levels of leadership. Yet engaging the leaders in the middle level of an organization in the planning and building of a model adds tremendous insight and value. After all, mid-level leaders are the direct link to organizational success.
The best way to understand the demands and needs of your organization is to go straight to your middle management and get their feedback. This provides benefits that are two-fold: it not only allows you to build your leadership development plan, but also creates the opportunity for extra opportunities for your high potential leaders. Conger & Fulmer of Harvard Business Review comment, "succession management must be a flexible system oriented toward developmental activities, not a rigid list of high-potential employees and the spots they might fill." When you engage your mid-level leaders in the process, the possibility of engagement and competency development in your leadership pipeline emerges.
This process should not only be an opportunity for these leaders to provide feedback, but also allow them to do some of the heavy lifting. This group can help determine the competencies needed from their leaders in order to be successful in reaching business goals and outcomes. Being pulled in two different directions (leading while being led) typically gives them a strong sense of the competencies needed from their leadership team to help meet business objectives.
When selecting the team to get feedback from, it's important to choose your star performers, in critical roles in the organization with a wide breadth of responsibility. This also builds engagement in the leadership process throughout multiple layers in the organization, and strengthens your succession planning. That is how we grow future leaders.
Instead of having the top-level execs always driving the leadership development process, strive to involve those mid-level managers. By doing so, we are creating opportunities to build a stronger and deeper model throughout the organization for leadership development. It might even spark the identification of new leaders in the organization! Chances are those star performers at the mid-level want to grow as individuals, reach organizational goals, and not to mention - move up on the leadership ladder. If they want to help be the voice and spread the word, let them. What better way to reach a broader scope of your employees than by engaging them in the leadership process?
If the long-term goal is to become a stronger organization and grow future leaders, then engaging leaders in the building of the leadership development plan should be key to not just the executives, but to those in the middle who are stars and who want a voice. Give them one!
Stay tuned for part three of the 3 Myths of Leadership Development.
Jim Finkelstein is the President and CEO of FutureSense, Inc. http://www.futuresense.com. He is a life long student of people and is an Adjunct Faculty member at Sonoma State University in the Executive MBA program. You can follow him on Twitter @futuresense
Melissa Mead is a writer for FutureSense. You can follow her on Twitter at @mloves2run