4 Tips for developing effective leadership teams

Written by Paul Glatzhofer, VP of Talent Solutions

Did you know that around 50% of leaders fail? Certainly, there is a variety of reasons for these failures. When I think about all of my clients and review some of the literature in the area of leadership failure, a few themes emerge as to why leaders fail at such a high percentage.

The most interesting themes are those that suggest the organization, not the leader, could have done more to help develop an effective leadership team. The four strategies below are ways that organizations can improve their selection of leadersleadership developmentsuccession planning, and engagement processes to help build effective leadership teams.

How to develop effective leadership teams

  1. Promote high potential talent who possess the leadership skills needed for the role and leadership team’s goals.

    Most organizations select new leaders by looking internally at the highest performing individual contributors. There are a lot of good reasons why organizations do this and looking to your top talent is a good place to build the pool. However, there needs to be a selection procedure in place to ensure these individuals actually have the right leadership skills needed for successful job performance in their role.

    Leadership assessments are reliable tools to measure the critical competencies that are needed when investing in leadership team development. The stakes are high when selecting these individuals as they have a significant impact not only on their team(s), but company culture and morale as well. Having an in-depth assessment in place as part of the promotion process will ensure that the best person is placed in the role as well as provide developmental feedback that can be used moving forward.

  2. Empower your leaders to make decisions.

    If you don’t empower your leaders to make their own decisions, they’re likely to fail in one way or another. Leaders (and maybe even more importantly, their direct reports) know when they don’t have the authority to make decisions. There are a variety of things that can go afoul because of this. However, one of the bigger issues is that prohibiting leaders from making decisions, whether intentionally or inadvertently, will bring organizational progress to a halt. Nothing is more frustrating to a team than feeling as if your hands are tied because you can’t get the necessary approvals, requested deliverables, or leadership buy-in to move forward and your manager simply doesn’t have the permission to weigh in or override. You’ve placed this person in their role because they demonstrated the effective leadership skills necessary to get the job done, so let them do just that.

  3. Communicate with your leaders.

    Somewhat related to empowering and trusting your leaders is the importance of organizational communication. Nothing derails a strategy or initiative more than a lack of communication among the leaders who are responsible for its execution. Many times, mid-level leaders are conscientious and take initiative because they want to get projects and work accomplished. However, they can more effectively execute if you provide them with insight into the over-arching goals and business strategy.

  4. Offer development and/or coaching to your leaders at the right time.

    59% of employees have stated that they received no training in the workplace period, let alone when they found themselves in a situation where they truly needed it. And while offering opportunities for leadership team development is great, execution is the key. When figuring out how to develop leadership within your organization, ensuring that your leaders are taking advantage of these opportunities is the best place to start.

    All too often, organizations reach out to me asking how to develop or coach a leader that has already derailed. Typically, the company says that they want to give the leader a chance to show their potential and prove they are truly dedicated to their team development. In many instances, however, it is already too late. Take steps now to prevent leader derailment. By focusing on leadership team development before problems arise, you can increase the chance that your leaders will succeed.

The power of effective leadership

While hearing that half of all leaders fail sounds quite grim, it is possible to minimize these failures if organizations prioritize leadership team development. Using these four strategies, organizations can confidently build effective leadership teams and set their leaders up for success from the very beginning.  By taking a closer look at your leadership team and the skills needed to succeed, and then trusting and communicating regularly with your leaders, you’re more likely to foster a healthy and effective leadership team.

Leading in the future world of work

As the world of work continues to change, the role and attributes of leaders continues to be debated and reviewed.

What are the most important changes and opportunities brought on by Covid-19, resulting in the biggest global leadership challenge in decades?

Download our research report now and explore our insights into four critical leadership themes:

  • The impact of leadership on organizational performance
  • The impact of leadership on the employee experience
  • Lessons learned from leadership in the pandemic
  • Future of leadership – critical challenges and responses
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