You Want to Develop Your Leaders… But Where Do You Start?

You Want to Develop Your Leaders… But Where Do You Start?

How to Develop Leaders at Your Organization

When we talk with senior leaders who want to develop leadership talent in their organization, we often ask them what success should look like and how will it be measured. The answer to this question is often along the lines of, “We aren’t sure.”

It’s a common dilemma — you want to develop your leaders, so where should you start? But it’s a challenging question to answer without some form of process and frame of reference.

Human capital development is a powerful way to improve your organization and can yield significant results, such as lower turnover and increased performance, but its complexity makes it difficult to execute.

To begin the process, you need to have a frame of reference. At CCL, we have one of the largest leadership research databases in the world, based on decades of 360 assessments and a rich body of evidence-based science used to accelerate leadership performance.

We’ve extensively studied many leadership competencies — ranging from strategic planning to self-awareness — that have strong cause-and-effect relationships to success. These leadership competencies can be developed and measured for impact in your organization.

But which ones should you focus on? How would you rate your current performance? Which ones are important for success today, and which ones are important for success in the future? (Hint: This is your leadership gap.)

Here’s the high-level process we recommend when we’re asked how to develop leaders at an organization:

  1. Identify the dimensions where you will put most of your development work. It helps to separate this process into subcategories of developing self, developing others, and developing the organization.
  2. Have an initial selection process with key stakeholders to identify which leadership competencies matter most at your organization, within these 3 dimensions.
  3. Implement a process of identifying how your organization currently performs in each competency. We recommend obtaining confidential feedback from stakeholders and using your people data to gain an accurate understanding and help determine where best to invest in development.
  4. Summarize a plan for development and evaluation. Communicating the plan and measuring impact is critical to ensure stakeholder buy-in.

This process is fairly simple, but it requires diligence. Taking careful consideration of priorities, competencies, and cause-and-effect relationships can yield an effective leadership development initiative, but only if you dedicate sufficient resources to planning, execution, and follow-through.

Ready to Take the Next Step?

After decades of experience pioneering the industry, we know how to develop leaders and can help you build critical leadership skills and competencies that are right for your organization’s unique context and culture. Partner with the experts in our Leadership Analytics practice to unlock the power of your people data and diagnose your current state, or learn more about our custom Talent Development solutions.


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June 7, 2020
Leading Effectively Staff
About the Author(s)
Leading Effectively Staff
This article was written by our Leading Effectively staff, who analyze our decades of pioneering, expert research and experiences in the field to share content that will help leaders at every level. Subscribe to our emails to get the latest research-based leadership articles and insights sent straight to your inbox.

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