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  • Business leadership strategy

Why you’re waiting far too long to begin leadership development

In today’s fast-paced, complex and challenging business environment, extraordinary leadership is in demand more than ever. But, companies either wait far too long to develop leadership skills in their own employees, or expect to import the perfect leader from their competitors. It usually isn’t until an employee either steps up into a leadership role or is close to being promoted that a company begins to invest in leadership development — and this is far too late.

A Harvard Business Review study shows that the average age of employees in leadership development programs is 42 – much older than the average age of an employee in a leadership role, which is 30. The study reveals that employees occupy leadership roles for approximately a decade before undergoing any training.

If you wouldn’t take golf lessons from someone who isn’t a golf pro, then why would you trust an untrained leader to run your team?

Confidence in leadership is at a record low
Fewer than 50 percent of employees trust senior leadership. Through a review of academic literature, the Economist has concluded that “one in every two leaders and managers is judged as ineffective.” These results aren’t surprising when you consider the lack of leadership training and experience that employees in senior positions have. Even if companies send their leaders to a weekend workshop or an accelerated course, if true leadership capability isn’t reinforced, over time employees will fail to develop as successful leaders.

Top leadership skills like the ability to motivate others, relationship building, effective communication and mentorship, are skills that directly relate to bottom line results, employee retention and corporate reputation. It takes a lot of practice, time and guidance to hone these skills, which is why early leadership development is vital.

Bridging the leadership gap

To build the next generation of engaged leaders, companies need to start early or they will miss out on younger top talent who are looking to fast-track their career. Companies like GE, who have early career leadership programs are not only smart to invest now in securing the skilled future navigators of their company, but they are also attracting young top talent away from their competitors.

When leadership development doesn’t start as a practice early on, leadership training provided later will not be as effective. Offering mentorship opportunities, visibility with senior leadership, cross-business experience, and leadership skill training to the younger generation of your workforce will build a strong foundation to develop the talent that will become the future leaders of your company. Creating a two year program, similar to GE’s, will help keep the talent you hired in the door, and by offering a rewarding next step after the program is completed will deliver a big return on your talent investment. Don’t wait until it’s too late to invest in the success of your company. Start today to ensure that your leaders of tomorrow can deliver the results you need.

Check out the 4 ways on how to adapt when you’re facing constant changes in management.

  • businessman with paper

How to Handle Constant Change in Management

In business, nothing remains constant. Fluctuating markets, unpredictable turnover, and structural reorganizations can take their toll upon the fabric of even the most successful companies. Managerial instabilities, however, can be one of the most challenging situations for employees to grapple with. When the person in charge is changing as often as your calendar, common workplace struggles are amplified. Building a meaningful relationship with the boss becomes increasingly taxing, climbing the ladder at a company can prove difficult – and adjusting to different managerial styles can be frustrating.

So how exactly can you, a loyal employee, adapt when you’re facing constant changes in management?

Schedule a Sit Down

During your initial interview with your company, you were given an opportunity to discuss your goals, and prove your value to your old boss. Despite the fact that the interview process can at times feel impersonal and nerve wracking, outstanding candidates view it as a chance to truly shine before their potential employer. If this sounds like you, your manager took a liking to you from the get-go, which provided you with the foundation to establish a camaraderie and healthy professional relationship.

The new boss, however, has never seen this side of you. You weren’t allotted a meeting to discuss your drive and aspirations for the company – so you have to go out of your way and request one. Schedule a sit down discussion with your new manager and go into it with the mentality that you’re going to prove your value to him or her. By doing this, you’ve informed them of not only your professional achievements and goals, but also the fact that you’re a motivated self-starter with a killer work ethic.

Get in the Loop

If there is turnover at the managerial level of your company, and you’re certain that your boss didn’t leave on his or her own accord to pursue other professional aspirations, it’s imperative that you figure out what propelled your company to oust him or her. Change in management can often indicate that a company is about to pivot or gearing up to move in a new direction. Talk to those around the office who may have intel on the changeover. By getting in the loop, you give yourself the opportunity to decide whether or not your vision aligns with your company’s new path.

Strengthen and Preserve the Relationship 

Although it can feel impractical and tiresome to continuously be putting in the same amount of effort to build relationships with your seemingly endless stream of new bosses, for you to make your way up within the company, it needs to be done. Just because you feel the new boss is close to hitting the chopping block, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Furthermore, befriending those you work with, including your boss, will allow you to find greater happiness around the office. It’s imperative to treat all new bosses equally, because you never know which one is going to stick.

If you’ve done everything you can to cultivate a healthy professional relationship, but your new manager fails to meet company expectations and is fired, don’t chalk up your hard work to a loss. Any positive professional relationship not only expands your network, but also makes way for a plethora of future job opportunities and references. Ensure that you preserve any relationships with your old bosses, because you never know what opportunity exists down the road that they can help guide you towards.

Be Adaptable

One of the greatest qualities an employee can have is the ability to be adaptable. In a workplace where the managerial tier is constantly evolving, the onus is on you to make the necessary adjustments to continue doing excellent work under different bosses. New leadership means new expectations, and as a dedicated employee, it’s up to you to not only reach, but also exceed them. If you’re unsure about your new boss’s expectations or communication style, it does not hurt to ask him or her directly. Asking questions and being direct in the workplace shows that you have a thirst for knowledge, and a passion for performing your job at a high level.

While frequent personnel changes can be challenging, you can decide how you rise to each of the occasions. Although it’s normal and tempting to feel frustration over constant changes in management, you have the choice to see the shifts as opportunities to take initiative, effectively manage relationships, realign yourself with new priorities, and showcase your irreplaceable value at your company.

Now from the other side of the coin from a managerial standpoint, by implementing an onboarding process, your company can nip any turnover problems right in the bud, cut turnover costs that are associated, and increase overall engagement. Stop bleeding talent back onto the free agency market within the first month.

  • Success business concept. People climbed on top of the stairs. 3d render

Kick your career into high-gear with these top 3 tips

Whether you’re actively on the hunt for a new opportunity, or you’re planning to take the next step in a year or two, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to overlook the chance to realign your personal brand with your career goals.

When recruiters hunt for top MBA talent, the most common feedback they hear from employers is that there are skill gaps in leadership, communication and strategic thinking – and unfortunately this doesn’t just apply to MBAs. Smart organizations now realize that soft-skills are vital to top-performing teams – but top talent with strong soft-skills is hard to find.

Below are the top 3 actions you can take now to avoid sitting on the sidelines:

  1. Refresh your personal brand

Social media isn’t going away, and in today’s digital climate where Googling the person who you will interview is the norm, investing in your personal brand on and offline is a must-do. As Shelly Lazarus, the former CEO of Ogilvy and Mather explains, it’s all about style – “not just what you say, but how you say it.”

Remember you already have a brand — but it’s important that you take control of it. Take stock of what people can find out about you, on and offline, and be carefully considerate of what you are putting out there. Don’t reinvent yourself, because that wouldn’t be authentic, but you can refresh your style by giving it focus. Jeff Bullas, named ‘The number on Global Digital Marketing Influencer of 2016,’ lists four steps to begin refreshing your personal brand:

  1. List your passions
  2. Discover the sweet spot at the intersection
  3. Describe your tone – Witty, Irreverent, Inspirational, etc…
  4. Write the 20 word mission statement that distils your purpose

If you aren’t sure where to start, find some inspiration by reading a book related to your field or career goals, learning a new skill or taking a class, or signing-up for a conference that you know will bring major networking opportunities with charismatic leaders.

  1. Find a career mentor who can hold you accountable

Advice columnists and experts often suggest that the benefits of finding a career mentor usually revolve around networking, helping you set goals or personal development. But what is overlooked or understated is the value that a career mentor can bring when it comes to holding you accountable for making changes stick and achieving your goals.

Before you go on the hunt for a mentor, it’s important that you clearly define:

  • What it is that you want,
  • What your goals and objectives are,
  • And what changes you are looking to make to achieve your professional goals.

Once you know what you want, it’s important to find a mentor who will check in with you regularly and will provide you the support you need to stay on track. When you have someone who will hold you accountable to making changes or achieving your goals, you are much more likely to succeed.

Ready to look for a mentor now? Check out this list of tips for finding a mentor from Forbes magazine.

  1. Refine your soft skills

Listen more. Talk less. Under promise. Over deliver.

If you work within a team, are looking to advance in your career or keep up with the fast-pace of today’s business environment, you can’t just rely on your expertise. Companies are now realizing that they can train new hires on their systems and workflows, but it’s not easy, and sometimes nearly impossible for a company to change an employee’s attitude or way of thinking.

The Harvard Business Review recently listed the top soft-skills of great digital organizations. They are:

  • Goal-centric thinking
  • Collaboration skills
  • Communication skills
  • Learning skills
  • Troubleshooting skills
  • Playfulness

There is no better time than the present to develop your soft-skills. Focus on improving the soft-skills that are highly sought after – enroll in a leadership seminar, or take a class that requires teamwork. Investing in your soft-skills now will lead to a big ROI later.

Remember – kick starting your career isn’t about fast-tracking it to the leadership table – it’s about refreshing your brand, your goals and your soft-skills so that you are relevant, professionally polished and are ready to confidently take on the next challenge in your career.

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Someone bringing talent to you is a benefit in and of itself. His contacts, his ability to go and find talent – but it’s the general understanding of what you need or what you don’t need and his ability to have the conversation about it. I looked at Martyn as more than the guy bringing talent to me – I looked to him for advice through the process.
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Paolo Boni
CEO, Leonardo
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