When I speak with senior leaders who want to develop leadership talent in their organization, I 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? This is 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. We have studied and implemented 56 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 the organization. But 56 is a big number — which ones should you focus on? Which ones are important for success today and which ones are important for success in the future? And how would you rate your current performance on these competencies?

Here’s the high-level process for our organizational assessment called the Leadership Gap Indicator:

  1. First, identify the dimensions where you will put most of your work. It helps to separate this process into 3 distinct categories: Developing Self, Developing Others, and Developing the Organization.
  2. Have an initial selection process with key stakeholders to identify which competencies that matter most in the 3 dimensions above.
  3. Implement a process of identifying how your organization currently performs in each competency. We recommend obtaining confidential feedback from many stakeholders in the your organization to gain an accurate understanding.
  4. Summarize a plan for the first stage of development and create an action plan for ongoing rigor. Communicating the plan is critical.

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.

If your organization needs help identifying leadership gaps and key competencies needed for development, consider our Leadership Gap Indicator. The Indicator is most helpful when your organization needs help with talent management or large-scale diagnosis of your training needs. It will help you figure out the gulf between what skills your team’s existing leadership competencies and those required for success in the future.


About the Author

Roger Shepard has more than 30 years of experience in business and leadership. At CCL, he works closely with Senior Leaders to develop leadership strategies that address the most critical areas for growth and development.

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