5 steps to develop a pipeline of leadership talent

Written by Guest Blogger Mark Plaster, President of Markwood Partners

This article was originally published in January 2016 by Mark Plaster, President of Markwood Partners. All relevant statistics and content have been updated as of January 2023.

In past surveys, executives across the board note the need to develop leaders at all levels of their organisations. Respondents also acknowledge that their current leadership programs aren’t producing the business impact they’re looking for. This dilemma highlights some of the questions decision-makers bring to Talogy when positioning their organisations for success.

  • How do I help my leaders to be successful now as well as prepare them for future opportunities?
  • What new skills will my leaders need three to five years from now?
  • How can I retain the leaders I’m building within my organisation?
  • Is there more to leadership development than just training?

Why is your leadership pipeline important?

These questions took on even more significance amid ‘The Great Resignation.’ 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in September 2021 alone, a record high, and that influx wasn’t exclusive to entry-level employees. As experienced leaders move on or retire, they take years of accumulated knowledge and experience with them. Many of these leaders had grown into their responsibilities over time, a luxury that may not exist for their successors. The need for new leaders to become proficient more quickly and learn a more demanding set of skills presents a significant challenge.

Read more: 4 ways to invest in your employees and avoid the workplace crisis of 2030

One of the keys to a successful leadership development program is to ensure the effort meets the specific objectives of leaders at each level of the organisation. The needs of the front-line supervisors, mid-level leaders, and senior executives must be met to address individual gaps and reinforce the organisation’s overall leadership culture.

5 steps to building your leadership pipeline

So, where do you begin in your efforts to build a complete and flowing pipeline of leadership talent? Here are some activities to get you started:

  1. Clarify future leadership needs across the organisation. Don’t just focus on creating more of what you already have today. What’s your leadership climate like, and where can you identify room for growth? Think about where your business is heading and what skills your leaders will need to drive future success.
  2. Link leadership development to organisational succession planning and individual career development plans. Leadership development is most effective when linked to other vital programs. Use your succession planning discussions to highlight needs for entire groups of leaders (i.e., all front-line managers) as well as individual needs for specific succession candidates.
  3. Use talent assessments to accurately target specific development gaps. A supervisor’s judgment is a critical element in identifying a leader’s development needs – but you can’t manage what you can’t measure. You can augment the supervisor’s perspective with assessments designed to provide a clear, objective view of the leader’s performance and potential. Over time, the database of assessment results can be a great source of insight into the strengths and needs of the organisation’s leaders.
  4. Position company executives as program sponsors as well as teachers. Strategically placing your organisation’s key leaders in front of program participants is about more than sharing your insight and experience. This positioning allows executives to develop trust and foster relationships which many employees note is significantly lacking in today’s workplace culture. According to a 2021 study by SHRM, 53% of working Americans who have left a job due to workplace culture report leaving because of their relationship with their manager. Building relationships now could save you from losing valuable talent.
  5. Employ a complete range of development resources. Think beyond just the traditional classroom. Include in-role development opportunities, coaching and mentoring, special projects or cross-functional assignments, and participation in formal learning programs.

Get started building your leadership pipeline

By assessing your current and future leadership needs and taking a thoughtful approach to development, you will take essential steps to ensure that your organisation will be positioned for business success ahead of the new year.

Are you ready to take your leadership and employee development to the next level? With Talogy’s science-backed assessments and solutions, you can utilise a blended learning approach that customises each person’s learning journey to their specific needs.

Identifying and selecting high potentials

We are facing a talent war.

Great leaders are hard to find and even harder to retain in a competitive global economy.

Now more than ever, identifying, developing, and engaging high potentials is an important part of every successful organisation’s talent strategy. They know that their culture is driven by their leaders and they also know that high performing leaders can be associated with all sorts of positive outcomes (e.g., increased retention of staff, higher employee engagement scores).

Download our whitepaper to find out:

  • What are indicators of potential?
  • How to identify and assess for potential
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