Warren Bennis, American scholar and pioneer of leadership studies, once said: “Managers do things right; leaders do the right thing”. Leaders must be able to go beyond the status quo to achieve what is best for the organization.
Leaders are active listeners, clear communicators, they are able to connect and engage with employees. Those are just some of the crucial capabilities of an effective leader. And in today’s disrupted world, enabling people’s performance and profitability has more to do with the human side of things than ever before.
The above list of exemplary leadership capabilities is a mere glimpse into what a successful leader looks like. It goes without saying then just how difficult it is to pick the right leader for your organisation, so how do you go about this complex task?
The impact of a good leader
A global culture report by OC Tanner Institute found that an effective, modern leader can make or break your culture. If you choose and develop the right leaders, you’ll likely be able to see “thriving cultures with higher engagement, retention, and employee net promoter scores”. 63% of employees look to their leaders to promote a shared vision, and another 67% of staffers expect leaders to create a sense of camaraderie for them. If leaders manage to inspire a sense of purpose in their work, make them feel appreciated, accomplished, and connected to the company, it can lead to:
- 10 times greater odds of having a thriving culture
- 11 times greater odds of creating an inclusive culture
- 7.5 times greater odds of enabling an adaptable organisation
- 6 times likelihood of developing leaders with a global perspective
How to develop great leaders
On the other hand, choosing the wrong people to lead an organisation can lead to costly consequences, including severe burnout, disengagement, feeling excluded and an overall negative employee experience, all of which are precursors to high attrition rates.
Managers need to be fair and astute talent scouts. Creating opportunities to allow potential leaders to prove their worth is key. It’s also best to start creating those opportunities early on in someone’s career.
Managers need to be trained to look out for HiPos (High Potential Employees) in their teams and assess their strengths and weaknesses. If the HiPo seems lacking in certain qualities or skills, managers are responsible for suggesting training courses to bring them up to the ‘next level’, says Loh Siew Kim, HR partner at Lenovo
Managers must act as mentors and coaches to the company’s current and potential leaders. That cycle can create better leaders out of mere managers and expand your pool of potential top rank.
How to assess potential leaders
HiPo have enduring leadership and interpersonal skills, as well as the right level of integrity and change agility, says Loh. After identifying potential leaders, it’s best to put them on stretch assignments to let them put the skills they learn into practise and demonstrate their capabilities. The process of picking and assessing potential leaders isn’t a one-off exercise, it’s a journey in resource planning, succession, as well as talent management.
Loh further said that even if you don’t have physical interactions it does not affect assessments or the path. At the end of the day, it’s about measurements, the set targets, the results and capability demonstrated, not about face time or physical interaction.
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