Is your leadership development strategy keeping up with current organizational challenges or do you find that you’re stuck on a perpetual treadmill of reactivity? Business is moving faster than ever and the strategies used to attract, develop and retain leaders that can deliver results must be as adaptable as the leaders they are meant to serve.
Many companies are completely restructuring their leadership development strategies to become more current. In Deloitte’s most recent Human Capital Trends Survey, 61% of companies surveyed reported that they have updated their leadership strategy in the last year or are currently doing so.
How do you determine if your leadership development strategy needs an overhaul? How do you ensure that it is delivering the impact, creating the pipeline and cultivating the leaders your business needs to thrive in the future? The answer is first to determine whether your current strategy is reactive or proactive.
Reactive: designed to identify and address problems
Proactive: designed to identify and propel opportunities
The immobilizing cycle of reactivity:
If you currently have a reactive leadership development cycle, here’s what it might look like:
- Identify organizational pains are tied back to leadership incompetency
- Identify leadership ‘problems’ and the leaders that have them
- Brainstorm ‘solution’ to problem and implement it
- Hope that somehow everything improves, while waiting for something else to break
- Experience organizational pain tied back to leadership incompetency
- Repeat until the system is beyond repair
The ‘problem’ with this cycle is in the word ‘problem’ itself. If your leadership development strategy is designed to simply identify and fix problems, then you’ll be stuck repairing problems forever. Your dreams of one day having something that ultimately is ‘better’ will never be realized, because you can’t improve something that you’re fixing. You can only get it working as well as it was designed to in the first place.
Consider now a proactive leadership development strategy. Here’s what it might look like to have a
Mobilizing Cycle of Proactivity:
- Identify leadership trends, necessary leadership capacities and promising leaders
- Identify leadership ‘opportunities’ and build off of their existing strengths
- Dream, create and implement innovative strategies
- Collect consistent feedback data and measure impact
- Tweak the new operating system as needed with small updates that keep it current
- Repeat as you watch your company soar above the competition
To be clear, I’m not suggesting that we scrap our problem fixing mentality all-together. But what’s becoming clear is that in the increasingly fast and complex reality, the problem fixing mentality isn’t going to help us create the systems and strategies needed to develop the leaders needed to navigate the emergent future.
Quite simply, the strategies we develop are designed to answer the questions that we ask them to address. So which of these questions is at the root of your leadership development strategy?
“What are the problems we need to fix?”
– or –
“What are we going to create together?”
Ultimately, we get what we ask for. The answers to these two questions are undoubtedly different, and lead to two very different destinations.