HR Leaders, Start Leadership Development Early

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The following is an executive summary for our latest white paper, “Leadership Is a Verb: Leadership Coaching Is the Key for Outcome-driven Development.” To download the full white paper, click here.

At one time, leadership development was about getting the most successful people prepared to be even more successful in top positions. But leadership has changed, and will continue to change. In response, many savvy talent leaders have adopted a learning system to create leaders earlier, and at all levels in their organizations. 

Further, the evolution of leadership and leader development is ongoing. To ensure their leaders thrive and can meet the needs of modern business, organizations should consider offering personalized, expert-led leadership coaching and shared or cohort-based learning experiences.

How is Leadership Changing — and Why?

According to a 2021 McKinsey & Company article “‘Back to human’: Why HR leaders want to focus on people again,” there is a significant trend toward human-centered leadership. In fact, study data from the piece revealed that 81 percent of chief human resource officers want to find more ways to leverage talent throughout the organization. This creates a fabulous opportunity for tech-enabled leadership development solutions that can scale efficiently, personalize the development journey, and start an employee’s leadership development very early in their career.

For our latest white paper, Sounding Board spoke with three senior HR leaders to get their perspectives on the evolution of leadership. Ed Cohen, Chief People Officer at SprintRay, Adri Maisonet-Morales, Vice President of Enterprise Learning at Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina, and Judy Whitcomb, Senior Vice President of HR at Vi, shared similar thoughts about how leadership has changed in the last few years. 

At the crux of this change and movements like The Great Resignation is employees’ desire to work with leaders who are more thoughtful, more authentic, and less interested in hierarchical systems. “Terms like The Great Resignation, from a talent perspective, could also be called The Great Retention,” Maisonet-Morales said in the whitepaper. “In years past, people were more willing to tolerate poor leadership; today they’re not.”

Leaders must be ready to respond to change

It isn’t just leadership that has changed over the last several years; business itself has been continuously disrupted. For instance, leaders have had to adjust to indefinite hybrid and/or fully remote work, neither of which were options for most workplaces just two years ago. 

Leaders have also had to adjust to near constant market inconsistency, disruption, and change. There was once a time when change and disruption were outliers; now they are the norm. According to Gartner’s 2021 report “Build Enterprise Leaders in the Era of Disruption and Digitalization,” the best way to ensure that leaders are equipped to lead during challenging times is to teach them skills that will enable them to thrive despite continuous disruption.

Gartner refers to this as “enterprise leadership.” Enterprise leaders reach their goals while leading their teams to do the same, and they make sure their teams work closely with other teams to share resources and best practices needed to reach organizational outcomes. These leaders are often self-aware, and that contributes to their success, as they can accept their shortcomings and strengths, and build up or develop their teams while ensuring they complete their tasks. 

Enterprise leaders are also adept at taking feedback, tend to learn from their mistakes, and often create space for their direct reports to perform at their absolute best. Even better, Gartner research revealed that “organizations with majority enterprise leaders can achieve 1.5 times greater year-on-year revenue, 1.3 times more net profit, and 1.3 times customer satisfaction.”

HR must prioritize developing leaders at all levels

Many leaders are not prepared to handle crises, changes, and other bumps in the road, at least not at the rate they’ve been happening these past few years. However, those skills can be developed. Leadership coaching can enhance and build core leadership capabilities when delivered with support from a skilled, certified coach. In a 2022 Harvard Business Journal article titled “Leadership Training Shouldn’t Just Be for Top Performers,” authors Navio Kwok and Winny Shen wrote that more often than not, only the most successful leaders receive the chance to be additionally successful. But if talent leaders want more leaders to emerge, they need to extend personalized developmental experiences to more people.

InterVenn, a San Francisco-based biotechnology company, began its leadership coaching journey with Sounding Board in 2019. Chief of Staff Dan Mulroy said, “if you take care of the team, the team will take care of the patients [we serve]. Leadership is an integral part of that.” InterVenn’s leadership coaching journey has not only helped the company to create more leaders, they tend to stay longer, which is significant given the organization is growing quickly. Results have been so positive, Mulroy said leadership coaching will remain an important part of the company’s leadership development and talent strategy going forward.

Start leadership coaching now

Creating effective leaders throughout your organization is the most effective way to promote talent retention, continuous learning, and elevate skill levels to more efficiently and consistently meet business goals. It’s important to invest in leadership development early. Whether talent leaders are preparing managers to meet change and disruption or giving emerging leaders the best preparation to be successful in a new role, tech-enabled, data-rich leadership coaching will change the way talented performers think, act, and talk about leadership.

Our most recent white paper, “Leadership Is a Verb: Leadership Coaching Is the Key for Outcome-driven Development,” takes a deeper look at what today’s HR and talent leaders are saying about current and future leadership needs, how leadership will continue to evolve, and how their peers can develop leadership capabilities that last. Good leaders need to be able to learn and grow into great leaders. No matter where they started, or where they’re going, support them. Your organization will thank you.

To read “Leadership Is a Verb: Leadership Coaching Is the Key for Outcome-driven Development,” click here!

Melissa Boles is a content marketing writer for Sounding Board.

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