The economic conditions of today’s business environment have sharpened the focus on leadership. Organisations are not oblivious to the fact that to survive in the marketplace they need efficient leadership. That would explain why in the last few years organisations have increasingly upped their investment in leadership development.
Latest organisational and workforce studies reveal that some of the most important leadership development priorities for organisations in India include factors that are an outcome of the workforce diversity and present economic conditions. Leadership development is geared towards making leaders capable of managing multiple groups and constituencies, develop the orientation to translate strategy into action, and influence existing and future talent in the organisation. Leadership development in progressive organisations target personality traits that will enable a leader in the current economic conditions to succeed and help business growth. Many analyst firm reports reveal that leadership development budgets in India and the rest of Asia will either remain the same or grow compared to the previous year.Clearly, organisations today are aware that to wade through the times of crisis and complexity they require efficient leadershipand are not wary about spending on leadership development.
The urgent focus on succession and action-planning
People Matters’ interviews with experienced industry leaders expose the growing trend of organisations focusing heavily on succession and developing action-orientation among present and future leaders. A study, ‘High Impact Succession Management’ by CCL and Bersin and Associates found that 65 per cent of companies with mature succession management programmes were effective at driving improved business results through leadership skills versus 6 per cent of companies with no succession process.
Increasing business complexities make it imperative for organisations to not only invest in leadership development, but also to use right methods and techniques in the process. Many organisations are now gaining clarity on what output they want their leadership development strategy to deliver. This is affecting the choices they are making to develop their leadership pipeline. In the recent years, companies’ inclination towards techniques such as action learning has increased as compared to conventional classroom-coaching or workshops. The concept of action learning allows participants to work in groups on real life business problem statements and to find solutions to it. The methodology of action learning is now being used by many leading players in this space. And, there was a clear requirement to do so.
Guillaume Gevrey, Director & Principal Consultant, C2C Consulting and Training, believes that when it comes to leadership development, organisations have started looking towards unconventional models such as Leadership Incubators which are based on the concept of action learning. He says, “Along with identifying HiPos, the companies now are also focusing on training them for future leadership roles and assess time frame in which they will be ready to take leadership.The good thing is that organisations have understood that the conventional classroom trainings might not prove to be extremely effective.”Many companies in India have started focusing on action learning and on-the-job training, and many global techniques such as creating ‘leadership incubators’ are being harnessed.
Leader personalities— the key to leadership strategy
Rather than relying on individual capabilities, leadership development programmes are now focusing on creating leadership behaviours in an organisation and there is a growing need for such programmes. Companies are also using variety of techniques while hiring people for leadership positions. Sundara Rajan, Director, Market Search India and Thomas Assessments India says, “Traits such as emotional intelligence and quick learning ability are measured by psychometric tools like Thomas Emotional Intelligence Quotient and General Intelligence Assessment.” Even when a candidate is identified internally for a leadership role, his credentials are evaluated using such tools.
A new-age leadership development programme will focus on these vital points:
- The rise of shared or collective leadership in an organisation. This looks at leadership with a focus on inter-dependent work rather than the command-and-control model.
- Movement from leader development towards leadership development. This model focuses on developing ‘behavioural competencies’ as required by different industries and looks beyond the long-believed phenomenon of leadership as an ‘inherent’ trait in a few individuals.
- Distributing leadership at different levels in an organisation.
- Putting in place a leadership succession plan and assessing an organisation’s capacity for leadership development.
Designing the right leadership development strategy
A leadership development plan cannot be randomly designed by picking up some of the best tools and methods. To make sure that the investment yields results, it is essential to measure the impact of a company’s investment on leadership development. For this, evaluation of intended outcome can begin at the front end i.e. before the leadership development plan comes into action. This front end evaluation requires clarity on goals of the interventionand the stakeholders’ expectations from a successful intervention. Usually, the evaluation of the impact varies according to the focus of leadership development strategy of an organisation.