«An extremely rare asset in today´s business is leadership. A leadership capable of transforming organizations the sustainable way to win in an increasingly competitive and changing world.»
A.G. Lafley´s opinion – given in the process of transforming Procter & Gamble, jointly with that of many other great leaders and institutions – alerted us more than 10 years ago to the business epidemic of the 21st century: the deficit in leadership. The lack of leadership to really lead and transform, inspiring and engaging their teams to sustainably reach a high performing business.
Since then, the epidemic seems to have spread further around the world over the years.
One of the recent World Economic Forums identified lack of leadership as the third global and business development challenge for the next 12-18 months.
HPO – High Performance Organizations
Thus, we have analyzed the ratio between the quality of leadership and its part in business transformation, development and success. Experience and data from over 17 years of helping organizations on their way to high performance has proven the following:
- The reluctance or lack of the leadership to take responsibility for leading a business transformation is suicidal for the organization.
- Leaders’ adaptation to changes resulting from the transformation is not enough. The lack of leadership at the front predicts and precedes the death of a company.
- Only those leaders who take responsibility for the transformation, involving their teams and collaborators, guide their organizations towards success.
It´s time to answer three questions that are put to us continuously by the organizations:
What are the reasons for the leadership deficit in organizations?
The leadership deficit in today’s organizations has two main causes. Firstly, the lack of mastering the required competencies and secondly, the lack of focus on the skills needed to lead effectively.
The first is a matter of attitude and aptitude that must be addressed through effective leadership development plans. The second concerns alignment and organizational development.
Any of them can become a problem in the short and long term if they are not managed properly and in a synchronized way.
What core competencies must be developed?
Leadership capacity is insufficient to meet the current and future requirements for transformation and business agility in organizations.
Our experience in High Performance Organizations for almost two decades has allowed us to decode the five most important skills for the development of leadership.
What the results of our High-Performance Leadership Assessment have paradoxically shown us is that the combination of all essential capabilities and associated competencies ranks among the weakest skills of today’s leaders in actual companies.
What should organizations do to develop their internal leadership capacity?
The first step is to identify and understand the problem. For most modern organizations the contemplation of the writer and journalist Gilbert Keith Chesterton is still true:
«It isn’t that they can’t see the solution. It is that they can’t see the problem.»
Our experience proves that once we help companies diagnose and understand for themselves the causes of their leadership deficits, they take a step forward in their capability to implement effective initiatives for their development.
This is why it is essential to have leadership development become a mechanism that is perfectly synchronized with all other organizational development activities. This is required to achieve business objectives.
That synchronization is started with a holistic exercise in organizational diagnosis and design. As all organizations are perfectly designed to deliver their results,
The organizational system should enable us to establish the roadmap for our transformation, including the definition of our leadership development strategy.
5 Steps to Leadership Success
This all is why leadership development in a High Performance Organization (HPO) requires five concrete and fundamental steps for its success.
1. Conduct a Needs Assessment.
Hence, identify the capabilities needed both now and in future to execute and further develop the organization’s strategy. As a result, our methodology for organizational diagnosis and design, together with our High Performance Leadership Assessment, allows organizations to determine the needs of their organization, their clients and the role leadership plays therein.
2. Create a Development Strategy.
A clear understanding of leaders’ responsibilities for business objectives provides the basis for shaping a strategy. Therefore it must sequence, in a plan aligned with the organization’s operations, the five fundamental areas of leadership development.
3. Create Individual Development Plans.
Once the strategy is established, individual development plans should be written for the leaders of the organization.
In these development plans, the strengths and weaknesses of managers and middle managers should be assessed against the capabilities and core competencies identified in the Needs Assessment. Furthermore, a roadmap must be drawn up to enable us to advance on each level of the organization at the appropriate time.
This process should result in concrete plans to develop and mentor each person at every level of the organization.
4. Build Organic Development Systems.
At this point, the strategy must be wired to the organic development of the organization. This requires us to develop the following basic systems in accordance with the new strategy:
– Performance Management
– Feedback and continuous learning
– Career plans
– Training plans
– Team development
– Talent development
5. Continuously Evaluate and Revise.
It is crucial that the organization establishes within its objectives´ deployment cycle a process of evaluation and continuous revision of their leadership development strategy. This evaluation has to respond to four fundamental questions
– What results have been achieved?
– Has the organization expected/required these results?
– What worked and what went wrong?
– What needs to be changed?
Transformational Leadership – The Road to an HPO
The closer organizations experience the reality of their leadership capabilities, the faster they can learn and improve. As a matter of fact, they do so by refocusing development efforts and reframing the priorities of all organizational development systems.
Consequently, a systemic and holistic approach based on the five steps outlined above is the most effective way to gain this proximity to reality. And to develop a leadership capable of transforming the sustainable way to win in an increasingly competitive and changing world.