Volatile and unpredictable changes in the macro-environment – such as in India’s national and regional politics, socio-economic traditions, emerging technology platforms, and business processes and models -- are placing unprecedented demands on Indian business organizations. The stresses and strains of responding to incredibly rapid growth opportunities raise a big question for business leaders: “how can we develop more and better leadership talent, more quickly?”
At the same time, intense pressures for business growth are changing the types of leaders needed to fill the pipeline and take on top and senior roles. What we need from business leaders is changing -- so the ways in which talent is developed must also change.
In the Talent Management scenarios that lie ahead, organizations and employees will jointly own accountability for leadership development. But this mindset shift toward joint accountability is easier to discuss than set in motion. For example, how common is it really for bosses, HR professionals and future top talent to take the time to meet and jointly map out a plan for career advancement? What is the likelihood that senior and emerging leaders will sit together to co-direct career progress and nurture the potential of tomorrow’s leaders?
The question I am raising is crucial because there is a mounting cry for experience-based development. Experience based development -- guided by bosses, senior leaders, and HR professionals -- combines the 70-20 elements of the 70-20-10 guideline for developing leadership talent. According to this guideline, which is based on over four decades of international research at the Center for Creative Leadership, development happens due to a combination of 70% on-the-job learning, 20% learning from others, and 10% coursework and training. But in the absence of creative approaches to synergizing 70-20-10, companies fall back on the 10% element (of coursework and training) as the mainstay of their developmental initiatives. This is no longer efficacious or acceptable.
Instead we recommend that organizational leaders, L&D professionals and individual managers join hands to map out career pathways. Career movement is no longer a simple promotion that takes the manager up the career ladder. Career advancement can mean relocation to a different geography, responsibility for a new initiative or fix-it, a move into another function or organization, or an assignment to manage internal or external stakeholders. Leadership development is no longer the result of attending classes or programs. Instead, development also comes from seeking and receiving knowledge, guidance and feedback from different bosses, senior leaders, peers, team-mates, professional networks, and even subordinates and family members.
Whether you are an L&D or HR professional or senior or emerging leader, the questions for you to consider are:
- Do you know which leadership capabilities are crucial for your organization to thrive in an uncertain future?
- Is emerging talent aware of which critical experiences can help build leadership muscle?
- Are top and senior leaders willing to place bets on emerging talent by giving them risky assignments in which learning will happen, but successful performance is not guaranteed?
- Is emerging talent taught the value of establishing relationships with HR, bosses and superiors, peers across the organization, and others outside of the organization to help them navigate the work and personal challenges they face?
Accelerating careers is no longer about promotions. Instead, young talent must be summoned to become open to trying out new and difficult job assignments and learning about leadership from their experiences. The new fundamental for accelerating careers, and coincidentally developing future leaders, is to present early careerists with every opportunity to learn important lessons from experience. To develop all-around leaders, an appetizing menu of a variety of experiences must be served up.