Few things are more important to the long-term success of your business than your leadership pipeline.

And yet for many businesses, building and maintaining a leadership pipeline falls by the wayside.

It’s all too easy to lose sight of our long-term needs for leadership while trying to juggle other goals that often have more immediate returns.

But great leadership doesn’t happen by accident. Businesses need to have a clear plan for identifying their next great leaders. They also need a plan for developing their people so up-and-coming leaders are ready to step up when they need them.

Here are three actionable ways to build an effective leadership pipeline at your organization.

1) Make Leadership Development a Top Priority – Seriously

If you only take one thing away from this article, make it this: leadership development of your current team should be a TOP priority.

Putting time, effort and resources into developing your people and guiding them on their leadership journey is anything but easy.

However, the rewards of strong leadership internally have a multiplying effect.

Active, ongoing leadership development programs allows you to ensure you have strong leadership at EVERY level of the organization – not just in the c-suite.

This is incredibly valuable for your team. Strong leadership at the “ground level” of your business increases morale, culture, performance, employee experience, customer experience, etc.

Additionally, it also gives you a broad roster of experienced leaders to pull from when you have openings at higher levels.

It’s difficult to overstate the value of a leader with deep experience of your own organization and who has built and grown their career at your business.

Developing leaders internally builds goodwill and greatly strengthens your employee experience because it’s a concrete way of showing your employees you truly care about their success.

Speaking from my own experience, I am now running five leadership development groups at my company. Why?

Because the effects of my first programs were tremendous and have snowballed into spectacular growth at our organization.

Even though I now spend 20-25 hours a week developing my team, we’ve virtually eliminated turnover, boosted our customer experience, and improved morale in the process – all while weathering a nasty recession and global pandemic.

Your next great leader is probably already at your organization. Act accordingly and start giving them the tools to reach their full potential!

2) Keep an Open Mind About Possible Up and Coming Leaders

The traditional wisdom around leadership selection is fraught with BS.

Common sense tells us that the best candidates for leadership roles are high performers with tenure. But neither of those things have anything to do with how well someone will lead!

We’ve all seen a business promote a high performer, only to watch them crash and burn because the leadership role requires a totally different skill set.

Likewise, we’ve all seen poor leaders who have put in years or decades at their organization.

It’s time to rethink our ideas about emerging leaders. Here at Qualigence, some of our best leadership placements in the last two years have been leaders who have only been with us for a few years – if not a few months!

We also need to be wary of our natural bias to pick people who look and sound like us. To boost our leadership selection, we need to leverage objective tools like those provided by the Predictive Index to assess candidates.

It’s about understanding what drives individuals and finding someone who will have real chemistry with existing teams. It also helps us understand where a leader will thrive, and where they may need extra support or training.

Keeping an open mind here allows us to spot high-potential leaders wherever they may be in our organization.

3) Foster Constructive Feedback at Every Level of Your Business

Most people have an intrinsic drive to improve and succeed in the workplace. They want feedback on their performance, and they want advice on how they can do better.

But with everything on their plate, leaders often neglect to give their team members consistent, honest, and truly constructive feedback. This has all sorts of negative effects on your business.

As a team member, it can create confusion about what your leader really wants from you. If you don’t know what success in your role looks like, it’s hard to know how to do better.

From a leadership development perspective, it’s a lost opportunity to help our people grow and learn. Regular, constructive feedback should be an integral part of your culture and way of doing business.

Every single leader should understand the importance of feedback. In fact, even your team members should be encouraged to offer constructive feedback to peers.

Oftentimes people are afraid to offer feedback out of fear of hurting someone’s feelings. It’s awkward to feel like we’re pointing out someone’s faults.

In reality, constructive feedback is a way of showing someone we believe in them and truly want them to thrive. It’s a way of saying “I believe you can become an even more valuable member of our team.”

After all, your next great leader may not start their leadership journey until someone challenges them to take their performance to the next level!

Leadership Development is the Future of Your Team

The long-term success or failure of your team comes down to how you develop leaders. Leadership is a journey, and it doesn’t happen accidentally or overnight.

If you’re serious about laying the foundation for your organization’s future growth, now is the time to look at your leadership pipeline and see what you can improve.

If you’re a senior HR leading looking to add more value and connect with your peers, join us for our upcoming Leadership & Legal Breakfast Briefings event!

Guests can attend virtually or in-person socially distanced, will recieve SHRM Strategic credits and will have a chance to connect with other senior HR leaders.

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