Most businesses falter when it comes to growing leaders who can keep pace with the speed of business today, according to the authors of Leaders Ready Now (DDI Press, 2016). Citing research that highlights this failing, scientists at Development Dimensions International (DDI) challenge CEOs and talent management experts to rethink their approaches to leadership development and to change the tools and processes they apply to the task.
The book is organized into six sections that showcase what the authors call "acceleration imperatives" that, when consistently applied, can propel business results from good to great.
Commit—Adopt acceleration as a business priority. Some senior management teams not only sanction and participate in leadership acceleration efforts, they take ownership of them and become intensely competitive about achieving results that strengthen the business. These organizations make leadership acceleration a business priority and manage it that way.
Aim—Define leadership success for your business context. While some organizations have a competency model in place, others turn their model into an indispensable tool that management and individual leaders use to guide the business's direction, understand the context of how it is changing and figure out what the enterprise needs to do to prepare.
Identify—Make efficient, accurate decisions about who to accelerate. For some organizations, the annual talent review isn't annual nor is it simply a review. Great talent reviews are talent investment dialogues that happen routinely as part of business discussions. Using data, these enterprises isolate critical talent gaps, identify the individuals who have the potential to grow as leaders and deploy resources quickly to place leaders where they are most needed.
Access—Accurately evaluate readiness gaps and give great feedback. Organizations that make great use of assessment leverage methods enable their executives to see how big moves (e.g., placing a young leader in a major role) will play out and how they can craft plans that will make the gamble pay off.
Grow—Make the right development happen. Helping new leaders learn new things isn't enough when trying to quickly convert them from not ready to ready now. New learning must be applied. Practice and experimentation need to become routine. Great organizations don't just enable learning, they ignite the application of leadership approaches that are essential to business success.
Sustain—Aggressively create energy for growth. Whatever form your acceleration efforts take, they should be built to outlast you and everyone in the organization. This is done when businesses apply positive tension to foster a common purpose and a shared dedication to ensuring growth.
Desda Moss is managing editor of HR Magazine.