How to Build Your Leadership Pipeline

by Erin Bair on September 10, 2018

in Leadership,Training

Management versus Leadership

According to a brand new EZ survey of 402 CEOs from 11 countries, together running companies worth $2.6 trillion in sales, 68% felt they were not fully prepared for their leadership position.

Across the board, their lack of confidence did not stem from a lack of expertise within their industry – they felt confident in the strategic and business aspects of their role – but rather their lack of interpersonal skills. And if the top leaders of premiere organizations feel this way, I’m guessing the percentage is even higher for more modest organizations and for less senior management.

To be honest, I don’t think the results are that surprising. I think we empirically know that people are promoted to positions of leadership based on their subject matter expertise rather than their leadership qualities. They often lack the self-awareness and skills required to motivate or productively challenge others, communicate expectations, handle conflict, recognize and leverage strengths and unite teams.

Therefore it’s probably not that surprising that the number one priority for training cited by employers is soft skills training. However, instead of taking a “one and done” approach to training, I’d recommend a developmental approach that will not only address current leadership needs, but fill the leadership pipeline as well.

  • Teamwork and Communication Training is essential for all employees, by the very nature that everyone has a different understanding of what “good communication” looks like and how it affects the group, as a whole. To really build your leadership pipeline (and avoid unnecessary day-to-day conflict) every employee should know the pitfalls and best practices of effective communication.
  • Basics of Supervision Training is the next step for individuals who are emerging leaders or more established leaders who have not had formal leadership training. Team leads should know the basics of motivation, teamwork, delegation, direction and coaching. Supervisors should additionally have training on discipline and the basics of employment law.
  • Mid-Level Leadership courses, ones that focus in-depth on conflict or building strengths should be a part of the journey to help managers develop their skills.
  • Senior Leadership also benefits from training, such as our Leadership Engagement Essentials, where leaders also have the opportunity to learn from their peers.
  • One-on-one coaching is also highly impactful for high-potential leaders. Too often coaching is thought of as a “remedial” tool for employees who are struggling. I’ve seen leaders and emerging leaders improve their effectiveness rapidly thanks to a good executive coach.

All this to say, we have a problem, but it’s an easily solvable one. There is no need for managers to feel unprepared when there are so many resources available to Cascade members!

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