Leadership is a skill set to be pursued

In recent times organisations are increasingly coming around to the view that leadership is not a matter of luck or chance but a skill set that needs to be actively pursued and cultivated as a mission critical goal. They are a product of blood, sweat, method and detailed HR interventions. However, the truth is that it is much easier to find followers than it is to find leaders.

Business realities today are driving an intense need for a critical mass of competent leaders and at the same time increased competition and changing demographics are causing an acute shortage of leadership talent. Successful organisations realise that ‘Leadership development’ must not be left to chance, this is a risk that any company aspiring to be a global player cannot afford to take. Today the widening gap between leadership demand & supply makes leadership development an absolutely critical business imperative. Moreover, they have realised that it is just not enough to have leaders, but imperative to have leaders who have it in them to develop a new set of leaders under them. However, the leadership quotient or capability index is an interesting outcome of both the organisation’s and the individual’s efforts.

Both organisations and individuals need to work in tandem. Are leaders born or are leaders made? The question is not unsurprising given that most managers have one dream and that is to have the three letters ‘CEO’ pencilled on their visiting cards one day. This is one management subject where debate tends to be heated with the two schools of thought arguing rather vehemently to prove their point.

Those factors are identified that allow financially successful organisations to consistently produce great leaders. Four clear truths emerged through this:

Leaders Lead the Way: Leaders are passionate and visible with an unwavering commitment to leadership; without this, developing great leaders is not possible. Leaders model the desired culture. Leaders develop other leaders of character.

Unrelenting Focus on Talent: Intense focus on talent permeates all levels of the organisation – succession planning goes beyond the ‘C’ suite Critical talent is identified, assessed, developed, and differentially rewarded. Experience is the best teacher-opportunities are provided to ensure critical experiences Exposure to leaders and other critical talent is essential.

Practical and Aligned Programs and Practices: Business strategy is at the core of programs and practices leadership development at top companies is clearly tied to results

Integration and execution are key to achieving desired outcomes Good practices and programs are transparent and scaleable.

Selection is as important as retention:

Leadership is a mind-set, a way of behaving, and it is ingrained in everything that the organisation does. Execute the above truths with the right depth and consistency across the organization.
Leadership reputation is a competitive advantage the best companies understand that the discipline is internal and external, and about both individual leaders and leadership, i.e. leadership brand building, and this becomes the compelling employer brand.
Hence to gauge the leadership quotient ‘top’ companies don’t just look at organisational performance as an indicator of their leadership pool, they use stringent measures to assess leaders as well retention of key employees, ability to fill key positions, and ability to attract top candidates. Additionally ‘top’ companies also monitor broader outcomes of leadership practices. While most companies track the number of job openings filled from the succession pool, the ‘top’ companies are more likely to trace the performance of the placed successor over a specific period of time.
Most companies track participants evaluation of leadership development training programs, but ‘top’ companies are more likely to evaluate changes in leaders’ behaviors as a result of development processes.