Leadership succession

first_imgLeadership successionOn 1 Sep 2003 in Personnel Today Steve Newhall, managing director of global HR consultancy DDI UK, arguesthat in a service economy, lack of basic leadership skills at senior level willstifle the best-intentioned initiativesThere was a time when companies were run by their founder, or his family.The vision, innovation or creativity of the owner was what drove the culture ofthe business. And if that was accompanied by autocracy and unilateraldecision-making, well that was ‘just the way things are done around here’. Withthe succession of the son and heir, it was as important to preserve thecultural legacy as to continue to grow the business and provide jobs for theworkers – who were generally glad to shelter under the patriarchal umbrella. Things are very different now. The UK economy has moved away frommanufacturing to the service industry, and the make-up of the workforce haschanged along with it. Instead of demanding loyalty from uneducated employees, businesseshave to meet staff requirements, as research proves that employee engagement isclosely linked to productivity. Focus on relationships For example, if customer service staff who are uninspired by their workallow their attitude to affect their behaviour towards customers, companieslose money. Expectations are higher, and being treated as an equal by the bossat the communal coffee machine is just a start. Many British businesses depend upon their people to differentiate themselvesin the market. So for those accountable for business performance, what mattersnow is how good you are at developing and displaying great skills inrelationship-building within an organisation and, equally importantly, outwardsto customers. The trouble is that most organisations don’t check the right credentialswhen they assume people’s aptitude for leadership. Promotion to management isoften a reward for performing well in specialist roles such as sales, IT andengineering. Recruiting externally brings no easy answers either. Most senior people’sCVs list achievements unrelated to their ability to lead people. The two key questions for organisations whose market share is won or lostthrough their people’s behaviour should be: ‘How can leadership potential bereliably spotted, early?’ and ‘How do we best accelerate the development ofthose in whom we find it?’ Desired culture In our experience, three out of four companies admit they lack clearcriteria for actually determining potential. They have failed to define aconsistent vision of their desired culture, so have no clear idea of whatskills future leaders need. At DDI, we set out to find this Holy Grail. We took more than 30 years’assessment data on thousands of individuals, and combined it with ground-breakingresearch from the likes of Jim Collins, Morgan W McCall, Ann Howard and DougBray. This gave us a process and a set of criteria for gauging leadershippotential. So what should companies be looking for? An inherent desire to lead othersand the ability to bring out the best in people is critical. Aspiring leadersmust care about people and be willing to give their time and intelligence tounderstanding different personal needs, motivations and histories. Are theysecure in their own ego, rather than needing to dominate? This has a highcorrelation with integrity, too – we call this ‘leadership promise’. Leadership imperatives So what are the premium leadership skills on which development should focus?At DDI, we believe there are seven ‘leadership imperatives’, the ‘must-have’leadership skills that our research demonstrates drive success: coaching;inspiring; partnering; influencing; driving performance; selecting; andmanaging work and resources. If you don’t start when you’re young – in this case, on the first rung ofthe management ladder – you are unlikely ever to excel at any of these things,and long-held bad habits are harder to change. The only way to ensure the future CEOs of our service-led organisations aretruly leaders of people, and not just charismatic money or marketing men, is tostart building those ‘must-have’ skills today. Fledgling leaders in their firstmanagement role – and many already in the job who have had no formal training –must be equipped with the leadership imperatives to do the really importantstuff really well, and let an engaged and motivated staff do the rest. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. last_img

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