Saturday, May 28, 2016

Leadership Skills: Effective Leaders Focus on the Future

a cartoon man looks through a telescope at a rising growth curve

Much of what defines a good leader is their ability to look into and plan for the future. They need to have a sense of what could happen and a belief in what they can make happen. 

One of the leadership critical skills they need to develop is the ability to plan for their own succession and for the succession of their team. Every conscientious leader takes a good look at the talent on the ladder behind them and tries to groom worthy successors.  But our employee engagement research tells us that far too many good managers are leaving.  This means that the pipeline for future leaders is often too narrow for comfort.

Over half of those surveyed believe high performing managers leave because they want to work for a more innovative company.  These managers want to work closer to technology’s frontier. They view their current firms as behind the times and unlikely to catch up.

What can be done about this brain drain that threatens the future of otherwise healthy organizations? Their leaders need to figure out how to spur innovation…enough so their talented managers want to stay where they are.

Fostering innovation is an important skill that can be overlooked in most leadership training programs. But we believe that each situation, corporate culture and leadership team is unique. When it comes to effectively developing executives, “one size” does not fit all. In cases where the shrinkage of leadership talent threatens the overall future of the company, we often look at how to foster a corporate culture that values and promotes innovation as a way to retain high performing and promising managers. 

This often involves:

  • Creating a relaxed and flexible working environment where ideas flow easily
  • Hiring people who align with your vision for developing new ways of thinking
  • Valuing diversity as a way to enrich thinking and problem-solving approaches because of the team’s different backgrounds and life experience
  • Looking for people who are deeply enthusiastic about what they do

Customize your leadership training programs to address the most critical issues facing and threatening your organization. If there’s a high turnover of high performing managers who seek more innovative companies, your focus should be on creating a more innovative culture “at home.” 

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