Leadership development is full of challenges. Resource scarcity, especially in time and money challenges talent identification and management efforts. If you believe that leadership is the single most important factor for organizational success, then leadership quality and density are existential factors. This does not mean, organizations with the most leaders will necessarily be the most successful, that prize goes to the one with the best (trained and developed) leaders; quality has a quantity all its own.
Leadership development programs are necessarily selective, or exclusive. Resource limitations and the requirement for rapid return on leadership development investment mean that not everyone on the team will be “groomed” for further leadership positions. Successful organizations develop a mutually inclusive process to identify leadership candidates. If there is an accepted definition of “mutually exclusive leadership development”, I am unaware. For this writing, it is “an organization’s process of identifying and investing in leadership contenders. These contenders also “choose the company” by espousing the organization’s ideas and philosophies.
The mutually inclusive process allows team leaders to ensure leadership succession by developing enough of the right people to build a “bench stock” of individuals ready for increased leadership responsibility. The organization’s senior leadership searches for members who not only show an aptitude for leadership but have established credibility and demonstrated passion for the organization’s vision and mission. The leadership candidates understand the organization’s “why”, and effectively develop “how” to effectively accomplish tasks. In addition to being able to build leadership trust within the organization (http://www.rhoneccg.com/blog/building-leadership-trust), the leader-in-training should buy into the team’s culture, but also be willing to provide inputs or take a lead on adapting the culture to generational changes. The organization should have a list of non-negotiable tangible and intangible prerequisites against which each leadership candidate should be measured along their deliberate development path.
To be clear, I am not advocating leaders ignore team members who are not deemed to be “leadership material”. On the contrary, developing leaders should be coached how to ensure the perennial journeymen are enabling the team to move forward and are connected to mission. Everyone impacts and contributes to an organization’s culture, in either a positive or negative way. Everyone “tops out” at some point; some as mid-level managers and others will make it to the “big office” as an executive. Leaders must understand how to discover, manage and optimize each person’s skill set Leadership development must include building leaders who understand how to develop their teams and the individuals who make up their crew.
The Mutually inclusive leadership development concept allows organizations to choose leaders who also choose the company. The leadership candidates who demonstrate leadership trust, potential, credibility, culture understanding, and who also choose the organization are ripe for inclusion into an organization’s road to increased leadership responsibility.
How do you, or your unit ensure your leadership development program is mutually inclusive?