Magazine article Talent Development

The Link between Leadership Development and Retention: Providing a Source of In-House Replacements for Current Leaders Down the Road Helps Drive Cultural Change and Retain Key Talent

Magazine article Talent Development

The Link between Leadership Development and Retention: Providing a Source of In-House Replacements for Current Leaders Down the Road Helps Drive Cultural Change and Retain Key Talent

Article excerpt

A new philosophy exists that is about making management and leadership development an ongoing process tailored to individual needs but also firmly rooted in an organization's culture. Technology often plays a role by providing tools for ongoing LD for managers and executives, and more organizations are searching their ranks for rising stars and nurturing their skills to build a pool of future leadership talent. Here are some examples:

Schwan's University. This two-year-old executive development program includes a strenuous nomination program, a day-long assessment of leadership skills, and action learning projects on real-world business issues.

Equity Residential. The Center for Creative Leadership, in conjunction with the University of Maryland, lead the initial program to provide leadership skills to 100 managers. Using that program as a model, an expanded program brought the training in-house, instructing as many as 2000 managers and executives.

Health First. This LD program divides 80 directors into groups of 20 for monthly meetings in informal settings. Each group focuses on a different leadership topic to foster a sense of shared responsibility.

Clearly, the use of combination approaches to leadership development aspires to build and sustain successful training programs.

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Effective leaders are invaluable in an era in which corporations must change course frequently to navigate obstacles and opportunities--a fact that has helped boost LD to new levels in many firms. Forward thinkers are going beyond business school programs and feel-good events such as board retreats and experiential learning programs, many say. The new philosophy is about making management and leadership development an ongoing process tailored to individual needs but also firmly rooted in an organization's culture. Technology often plays a role by providing tools for ongoing LD for managers and executives, and more organizations are searching their ranks for rising stars and nurturing their skills to build a pool of future leadership talent.

"We're seeing a move away from leadership development as an event, to leadership development as a process," says Stephen Rhinesmith, a partner with CDR International. The West Chatham, Massachusetts-based firm provides custom leadership development programs to blue-chip companies, including Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Intel, and Sun Microsystems. Rhinesmith cites Sun, which CDR has helped to create a program to foster high-potential middle managers, as an example of the premium being placed these days on effective leadership.

"Companies that really understand what leadership development is about understand it is what they need even during the down times," says Rhinesmith.

Budget realities being what they are, many organizations are trying to do more leadership development with less--and coming up with a range of approaches for doing so. Some are partnering with outside providers to help with a key phase of their program. Some are scaling what they've learned from outsourced programs into larger in-house initiatives. Others are relying on new technologies to help sustain and support managers and executives, while avoiding expensive face-to-face gatherings. And many are recognizing the need to augment nuts-and-bolts management skills found in business school programs with people skills needed to make managers and executives more effective. In sum, training managers are getting increasingly creative in their approach to LD.

"Even when managers know what to do, they don't necessarily know how to do it or who to tap to help get it done," says John Alexander, president of the Center for Creative Leadership, which specializes in leadership development programs that focus on fostering emotional intelligence. Alexander sees a growing demand for behavioral skills from organizations seeking to complement the management know-how provided by business schools, a trend he expects will accelerate as the economy rebounds. …

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