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  • Writer's pictureTony Richards

Developing Your Leadership Infrastructure

It may seem like a simple part of the construction process, but the strength of the foundation and the strength of the infrastructure of the building are incredibly important. The same is true regarding your organization. All things are constantly in transition within your organization, especially where talent is concerned. There is no status quo. This DNA of talent within your company we will call your leadership infrastructure. It is the foundation and “skeletal bone structure” of your enterprise. In the last few years, leaders have come to realize just how important this structure is and the process involved which all leaders eventually face.

Talent comes and talent leaves and the management of that process can separate the good and great companies.

A few leaders handle this transition process very well while many do not. Very few even realize how challenging it’s going to be, and many of these leaders are those who have a low appreciation of the role talent plays in the degree of success they will produce. These types of leaders believe people are very replaceable much like cogs in a wheel. When one is done, just get another one and keep on going. Thankfully, that mentality is slowly but surely dying in today’s business environment as more appreciation for talent is on the rise.

The fact is, employees are our biggest source of competitive advantage while finding and grooming talented people is our biggest challenge. You may be surprised to learn that most experts agree there is a world-wide shortage of talent and most companies are not prepared for the challenge of attracting, retaining and developing the people they need to have an impressive leadership infrastructure. Too many companies (not my clients) are not taking action at the CEO/Senior Executive level and talent management and development not a core competency of senior executives. They do not see how this competency is linked to their overall responsibility of growing the business, but not only is it linked, it is actually inseparable. If you ask many winning coaches what the main ingredient of their success is and most will answer that they had the best players.

So, if tasked at looking at building a stronger leadership infrastructure, how would we break down the current talent inventory? Here’s one way we have done this in the past.

People who are a fit and have the skills to do future jobs. There are people within your company who believe in the mission and vision and they live the core values. They also have the ability and skills to adapt to the jobs we will need in the future as our company grows and through technology changes. These people are at the top of our list as our high potential people who can really help us grow through future transitions.

People who are a fit and have a skills gap. These people are bought into the philosophy of the organization, but they need training and development on some skills in order to fill future needs we will have. They are a step or two behind the aforementioned group but they can catch up if we engage in the right technical skills training plan for them.

People who are a fit and have a coaching gap. Sometimes you have people who are a great fit for the organization who possess the skills they just need coaching help to shore up the gaps in their behavioral skill set. Sometimes this falls under interpersonal skills, leadership or another area in which they are able to perform technically but need help behaviorally.

People who fit now but won’t in the future. Yes, it’s true, unfortunately. Sometimes the people who got you here are not the people who will take you there. Companies evolve and change. Some do not change with it. Those that believe that talent trumps tenure know this so very well. This philosophy believes yesterday’s length of service should be recognized but does not carry as much weight if the talent does not match today’s, or even more importantly, tomorrow’s challenges.

People you need to recruit for future needs. You must always be recruiting. The only way organizations will be able to compete in the future is to have the talent, which can compete. As your company grows and changes, you will have different needs that you do today. It’s important to identify your needs constantly as well as keeping the recruiting effort and the recruiting funnel full to be able to access the talent you will need.

If you take an honest and thorough look at the leadership infrastructure and the succession plan in your organization, you must come to realize you cannot accept anything but outstanding talent in your key positions and the backfill to those positions throughout the company. Yes, talent is in short supply, but to be as successful as you can, you must locate, acquire and curate as much of it as you can.

For more leadership resources, sign up for Tony’s Monday Morning Coaching Memo.

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