The job of a leader is not complete until he or she is able to identify and develop leaders for the future. With rising attrition rates, it has become a priority for companies to seek talented employees from within the company to take up leadership roles. It is not enough for managers to have domain knowledge alone. The ability to equip employees with strong leadership abilities is of vital importance for the senior management.
Here are four ways for organisations to nurture future leaders.
Cultivate talent champions
According to the Corporate Leadership Council, talent champions are managers who undertake the responsibility of identifying and preparing future leaders. The ideal talent champions are line managers. This is because line managers work closely with high potential candidates on a daily basis. However, only 19% of managers in the corporate world display the traits of talent champions. Companies that are committed to successful leadership transition must focus on this aspect. New responsibilities and visible recognition can go a long way in transforming managers into talent champions.
At Bajaj Finserv, we organise Fulcrum, a program that helps mentors build their leadership skills facilitating their own developmental process. This is to promote collaborative learning and challenge both mentors and protégé to move beyond their comfort zones.
Many companies have understood that leadership coaching is an integral part of the talent management process. After identifying prospective future leaders, they put extra effort to bring out the best in them. Various colleges and leadership trainers provide structured programs for managers to develop the necessary skills. These programs can be quite expensive but companies are ready to bear the expenses because their returns would be far greater.
For example, Tata Consultancy services (TCS) runs a flagship leadership programme named Ambassador Corps for its managers. This programme trains managers to take on roles of greater responsibility in markets all around the world. Similarly at Bajaj Finserv, we have multiple programs for leadership training. Advanced management programmes focus on taking leadership to the next level. It offers development inputs around broader intellectual depth, understanding the big picture and the strategic edge to future leaders.
Broaden leadership themes
Different leadership styles exist in the professional work environment. Culture, vision and goals of the company play a big part in the leadership style of the company. However, if the interaction of leaders with team members is predominantly transactional, it can affect the team dynamic. It is not enough for leaders to reward or punish employees for their performance. The leader has to encourage his or her team to contribute towards the decision-making process and value their inputs. Collaboration motivates employees to look beyond the work assigned to them.
At our company, we organise an annual meet for the senior leadership team that includes our CEO and MD. They take time off their routines to get into strategic discussions. Titled ‘Ruminate’, it is a strategic learning offsite that blends experiential exercises with classic indoor discussions and inputs.
Each company should foster a culture of mentorship. It would be ideal if the company can create programs for this purpose. Employees earmarked for future leadership roles must be paired with senior management to build leadership skills.
For example, our mentoring program Fulcrum aims to facilitate young leaders to build their business acumen and gain experience. This can serve a dual purpose for the company. Young leaders can benefit from the immense experience of their mentors. On the other hand, senior leaders can always use a fresh perspective to tackle new challenges.