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Evaluate the range of methods whereby an organisation could identify and develop potential future leaders? Relate the analysis to some of the challenges facing your current organisational environment.
People are the key to a company's success. They are the most vital asset in the company (along with its customers). Without them, one would not and could not exist in business. Building and conserving this asset is the central task of an organisation. In today's highly volatile and competitive market environment, producing business results and developing people are not mutually exclusive options; they are polarities to be managed and both must be pursued. Companies essentially need to have a 'solid' leadership development plan to sustain business given key employee leave companies for a variety of reasons. Building succession plans are not just a short-term bottom line driver of business strategies, but core to the very basis for survival and business continuality. Leadership development is a way to groom future leaders hence succession fulfills this objective. It brings added value and helps leaders to responds quickly to the needs of the organisation.
In the sections below, we will evaluate the past and current methods of identifying and developing leaders. We will also try to understand the theory behind this idea and then apply it to a real-world scenarios (company) to see how different methods of leadership development can help identify and develop future leader.
So, what is 'Leadership development' and why is it important?
We cannot assume that all employees in leadership positions have the knowledge and skills needed to be effective leaders. In fact, this applies to all levels of management.
There are many ways to assess leadership effectiveness and honest evaluation of leadership helps identify strengths and weaknesses.
Joanne Ciulla (1998) defined: "Leadership is not a person or a position. It is a complex moral relationship between people, based on trust, obligation, commitment, emotion, and a shared vision of the good." (Source: http://www.leadership-studies.com/lsw/definitions.htm)
Ralph Stogdill (1974) defined: "Leadership is the process of influencing the activities of a group toward goal setting and goal achievement."
Bernard Bass (1960) further explained that an effort to influence others does not equal leadership in and of itself. It was not until the influence actually results in a behavioural change that leadership is considered to be successful.
The above references suggest that there is a close relationship between leadership and influence. Thus 'Leadership Development' is a process by which these 'influencing' capabilities are harnessed and given shape. This is a very important process in any organisation because the very existence of the entity (organisation) is dependent on the ability to influence actions positively and productively towards a common goal.
What are the methodologies and approach?
Based on my reading from 'Leadership Development: Past, Present, and Future' by Gina Hernez-Broome, Richard L. Hughes, from the Center for Creative Leadership. Leadership development methodologies predominantly used in the past were classroom-type training. Over the years, activities such as coaching, mentoring and 360-degree feedback evolved and become key elements of leadership development. These are described below:
360 degree appraisal
Research has shown that the most important management practice in predicting profitability and productivity in an organisation is people management. This includes making sure employees get the feedback they need to continually develop their behaviours, skills, and competencies. 360 Feedback is a highly effective way of providing accurate feedback because the manager receives feedback from a range of people at different levels.
With 360 Feedback, a manager receives feedback from a number of people around them, who are typically their peers, direct reports, and managers. The input from many individuals help managers to learn and understand how other employees views his or her report performance on the job. The manager can then make changes and decisions accordingly.
In addition, managers and leaders within organisations can also use 360 feedback to get a better understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses.
Coaching and Mentoring
Research shows that the most powerful development happens on the job. Coaching moves an employee from where they are today to where they want to be.
Eric Parsloe (1999) defined coaching is "a process that enables learning and development to occur and thus performance to improve. To be a successful a Coach requires a knowledge and understanding of process as well as the variety of styles, skills and techniques that are appropriate to the context in which the coaching takes place." (Source: http://www.coachingnetwork.org.uk/resourcecentre/WhatAreCoachingAndMentoring.htm)
Coaching focuses on the needs of the employee and embodies the vision and values of the organisation. It identifies both barriers and behavioural patterns that have impeded success in the past and determines specific, tangible actions and resource required to achieve desired goals and outcomes.
In the article 'Mentoring Definitions - The coaching and mentoring network' collected by Andrew Gibbons. Suzanne Faure defined mentoring as follow.
"Mentoring is a long term relationship that meets a development need, helps develop full potential, and benefits all partners, mentor, mentee and the organisation."
"Mentoring is a supportive learning relationship between a caring individual who shares knowledge, experience and wisdom with another individual who is ready and willing to benefit from this exchange, to enrich their professional journey."
In some organisation, employees may also have the opportunity to be assigned a Mentor. This mentor in most cases is an individual within the organisation who is not directly within the employee's direct reporting line. The mentor provides an additional resource for planning, problem-solving, and general workplace consultation.
Whether coaching or mentoring, the effectiveness lies in the ability to of the coach/ mentor to promote an environment that provides constructive feedback and problem-solving collaboration. The 'open' communication environment allow constructive feedback on employee performance progress and collaborates with them on what new/ additional resources, training or support they need to excel in their performance/ development. On the other hand, the employees should also ask for feedback and coaching on specific problems or issues. Feedback is vital in this process and should occur continuously throughout the employee development lifecycle. It is equally important to inspire employee to stretch beyond what they thought they could do. Setting high performance standards for major projects/ initiatives help encourage them to set challenging goals and high standards of performance for themselves.
In addition, managers should encourage employees to continually evaluate the process and make recommendations for improvements that go beyond tried-and-tested methods. Managers need to find opportunities to share information and ideas without fear of negative consequences. They also need to addresses and help to overcome change resistance/ concerns by providing opportunities to learn or acquire the skills needed to transition successfully.
Afterwards, he should identify current and future capability needs in the employee's areas of responsibility compared to established business objectives. An environment that promotes continual learning and development is ideal in this case to strengthen the learning climate.
In brief, coaching should be viewed as supporting short term objectives while mentoring should be viewed as supporting long term objectives.
In addition to the traditional methods described above, there are certain other ways of leadership development also as described below:
John C. Maxwell quote: "A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way." (Source: http://thinkexist.com/quotes/john_c._maxwell/)
Many times we limit ourselves to thinking of training as the only way to develop our competencies. In reality, studies have shown that the vast majority of competencies that we develop are in fact developed 'on the job'.
However, there are cons about shadowing. In the article 'An Effective Shadowing Process For Leadership Development' by Daniel D. Elash, PhD. Dr Daniel argues that shadowing seldom leads to new learning for several reasons.
The deep conversation and hands on experience that are critical elements for mastery of complex skills that are missing here
The learning is seldom shared beyond the 'learner/ coach' dyad
The 'learning' is often left to the observational, deductive and intuitive capabilities of the learner. Unfortunately, the learner is almost never psychic
The role model frequently is someone who does not have a teaching plan, and who may or may not be an adequate coach. Unfortunately, subject matter expertise does not automatically translate into strong teaching skills
I tend to agree with Dr Daniel that there are flaws with shadowing. Besides rarely getting any new learning, I think, in reality, the learner/ follower will sub-consciously learn or inherit the work habits (either good or bad) from the leader. These habits may eventually become visible/ noticeable by the people who interact and work with the follower. This will inevitably determine the follower's (who later became leader) leadership style.
Outdoor development training
More and more companies are seeking professional to conduct outdoor training and development programs to develop their management team. Perhaps many companies are starting to believe that leadership and management skills are best learned through experience. Personally, I learn best by doing and carrying out the activity.
David Kolb (1984) describes how four stages influence the way that people learn.
Reflection and Observation
Kolb's Learning Cycle
(Source: Corporate Leadership and Change Management Study Guide from The University of Hull)
The above theory pointed out that an individual learner has different learning preferences that are not the same with others. The theory suggests an individual can begin learning at any stage so long as the learner values the process.
The MBA study guide from The University of Hull suggest member participate in the outdoor training required to reflect upon their experiences in order to draw out learning point which are likely to be relevant to workplace problems and issues.
In summary, there are many ways by which an organisation can identify and develop potential future leaders with each having its own merits and demerits. The bottom line however is for the organisation to pursue at least one of these methods in order to develop its people and remain a viable firm.
In reality, large organisations, like the one I work for, face many challenges in identifying and developing leaders simply because of its own size. One would expect large organisations to define focussed processes to this end, but ironically, they are the ones that often stumble.
In the following paragraphs, we will relate the above concepts to some of the challenges facing my organisational environment. For this purpose, I select Halliburton. Since Halliburton is large organisation with multiple product and service lines, discussing the challenges of the entire organisation will be beyond the scope of this exercise. I will instead focus on the Information Technology organisation of which I am a part. But first, let's start with a brief introduction of the company.
Founded in 1919, Halliburton is one of the world's largest providers of products and services to the oil and gas industry. It employs more than 50,000 people in nearly 70 countries. In the 1930s, Halliburton established its first research laboratories where the company tested cement mixes, began offering acidizing services to break down the resistance of limestone formations and increase the production of oil and gas, and performed its first offshore cementing job.
Today, Halliburton offers the world's broadest array of products, services and integrated solutions for oil and gas exploration, development and production.
As with most large organisations, Halliburton also has challenges in identifying and developing potential leaders. Halliburton's success depends on the knowledge skills and abilities of the people. In fact, almost everything about our business has changed since I first came to Halliburton in 1999, and the next generation will see even bigger changes.
As our business, and the global situation, continues to change, we must plan the future of our organisation. The management team and I have begun grappling with the most important questions raised by this accelerating pace of change: What kind of leaders will we need in the future? How can we develop our future leaders using a consistent process when there are so few constants? Also, how can talented, ambitious employees plan for their career development and prepare themselves for future leadership roles?
These are the challenges facing my department (and perhaps others as well within the organisation). Although these are not trivial questions, Halliburton has developed processes and procedures to ensure that some, if not all of the above, are closed.
The answer to this is a leadership progression and development process that defines our leadership pipeline progression and development for the future. The process should be based on understanding and enabling the leadership drivers required to make our business successful.
In my organisation, there is a wide variety of systems and processes to help employees develop their capabilities. We have performance management system called PPR (People, Performance and Results). The PPR System is an online system used to document annual performance goals and developmental plans for all employees. The purpose of the system is to document the planning session between employees and their managers/ supervisors in which annual performance goals and development plans for the year are established. Inputs to this process also include competency assessments through the CDS (Competency Development System).
The competency assessment system is a succession planning process and talent
profile tool use to identify talent within the organisation.
In addition, we utilise an online e-learning system called I-Learn to provide employee formal learning resources. This includes both online computer-based training and instructor-led training.
In brief, Halliburton has a central resource for identifying training, development opportunities to track employee progress on competency development.
Organisationally, we have a culture where the managers and supervisors are to assist their employees to develop to their fullest potential. However, I believe employees are ultimately responsible for their career development and they should maximize the opportunities provide them to develop to the greatest extent possible. It is vital importance of communication between the employee and manager/ supervisor which is absolutely crucial to allow the employee to plan and develop their potential.
In my organisation, an individual is mandated to enter and maintain his or her Talent Profile. The Talent profile is an on-line repository of employee information containing educational background, personal strengths, leadership behaviours and career aspirations etc. The purpose of the system is to contain an up-to-date record of each employee's work and educational history and career aspirations. The information in the Talent Profile is used as career development planning input to the PPR process and also as input to the Succession Planning process.
We have heard of the Seven Stages of Leadership by Hartill Consultancy (2005).
Harthill Consultancy (2005). Published in 'Edge' Magazine - Institute of Leadership and Management. (Source: Corporate Leadership and Change Management Module Handbook from The University of Hull)
In Halliburton, we have condensed the seven leadership levels to four new leadership levels: Strategic, Transformational, Operational and Frontline. In our context, the strategic leaders establish vision and actively utilize customer orientation and strategic market insights to create the long-range strategies that enable us to enter new global markets and seize new opportunities. They change paradigms and stretch the organisation. Transformational leaders are the one who transform strategy into execution while staying customer-focused. They connect strategy with our organisation's capabilities and culture. As for operational leaders, they see to it that we have the right skills in the right place at the right time to achieve customer loyalty, superior service quality and operational effectiveness. And finally, frontline leaders are those charged with leading and training frontline teams in the day-to-day tactical execution of work in a safe and efficient manner. Frontline leaders are responsible for effectively meeting customer needs in real time to ensure customer satisfaction.
It is important to note that each level of leadership needs specific competencies to be effective and successful. The business strategy and objectives are constant, while the leadership drivers and competencies change at each level. They become increasingly complex as employee move up from the tactical frontline level to the higher strategic level.
In my organisation, competencies will be assessed for the Strategic, Transformational and Operational Leader levels. In many cases the immediate supervisor is the assessor, but in some instances he/ she may select a more appropriate subject matter expert to assess the employee. The purpose of the assessment is to verify the employee have mastered the competencies.
We have two types of competencies in the organisation:
Role Based Competencies - Competencies that are unique to a given job role, sometimes referred to as Technical Competencies
Transferable Leadership and Management Competencies - Competencies built over the employee career that move with them, or are transferable, from job to job.
(Source: Halliburton Human Resource)
Both types of competencies play an important role in the employee development.
Early in the career, heavy focus should be placed on role based competencies, with less emphasis on transferable competencies. As the employee progress through their career, however, transferable competencies will take on increasing importance.
In fact, these transferable competencies apply to everyone in the organisation, whether or not the employee are formally a manager or supervisor.
The purpose of role-based competencies is to provide clear guidance to employees on the specific knowledge, skills and behaviors that will lead to their development as a professional in company's operations. The competencies and assessment criteria build upon each other from the lower level jobs to the higher level positions. Higher level positions are presumed to have the competencies of all of the lower level positions.
The purpose of transferable leadership and management competencies is to set clear expectations across the organisation as to what is expected of all supervisors, managers and leaders in the area of organisational leadership and management skills. These competencies also include interpersonal and teamwork skills, and as such are designed to apply to all employees in the organisation. We all have an obligation to act as leaders in our teams and organisations. The intent is to 'raise the bar' on everyone's ability to contribute to the goals and objectives of the company. Role based competencies apply only to a given job, while these transferable leadership and management competencies apply across the entire organisation. There are seven defined transferable leadership and management competencies. These same seven competencies apply to all employees in the company.
These competencies are:
Business execution - Focus on improving business results and creating sustainable value
Impact and influence - Collaborate and cooperate across product service lines to improve business results
Customer focus - Deliver outstanding products and services that help our customers succeed
People development - Develop individual and organisational capability and competencies
Self-management - Maximize your individual contributions to the Company
Decision making - Make decisions based on the reality and facts
of the situation
Global perspective - Take a global view of our business.
(Source: Halliburton President's Leadership Excellence Program)
The competencies are broken into five sets, with different sets of performance or assessment criteria based on job level within the company. As job levels increase, the performance criteria become more demanding.
Key significant competencies provide a visible 'yardstick' to the employee to evaluate desirable skills and knowledge obtainable in both their current position and any future role that the employee may take. Managers/ Supervisors will be accountable to insure that this coaching and mentoring is provided to employees at all times.
Additionally, managers/ supervisors will assist the employee in defining these competencies within the context of the employee's existing role and any desired role. This feedback will provide the employee clear visibility to identify which competencies have been attained and competencies that the employee needs to add.
The managers should continually encourage the employees to evaluate their individual skill set against the role based competencies as established by the company. These competencies are to be imbedded within the PPR process and incorporated into I-Learn and other training tools to maximize employee development. A specific metrics will be adopted to measure the degree of success.
Training for employees and managers is a key component to the success of the development process. As I mentioned earlier, employees are to be responsible for executing against their established performance and development objectives/ goals even thought supervisors/ managers are responsible to ensure employees are given the appropriate opportunities to achieve their performance and development objectives/ goals.
In this scenarios, the employee and supervisor/ manager share responsibility for scheduling and conducting periodic feedback sessions. Feedback sessions allow the manager/ supervisor to track the employee's progress, obstacles, problems, and achievement of each objective/goal. It also helps identify any changes that affect performance and development objectives/ goals (such as a cancelled project, inability to gain required support, inability to attend training, organisational changes, etc.) This provides a mean for the managers/ supervisor and employee to reach mutual agreement and set expectations. This process should be ongoing and dynamic, providing for needed adjustments and changes during the employee service with the organisation. There should also be several formal or informal updates throughout the year on progress, barriers encountered, etc.
In the course of my career, I often heard employee ask the question: If I complete my competencies for a given job, will I get a promotion? For a long time, people tend to link personal competencies to promotion. So, what is the relationship between competency development and promotions?
Personally, I feel that competencies are enablers that significantly enhance employee ability both to contribute to the organisation and to advance professionally. There are many factors come into consideration such as personal traits, history of producing results or track record in achieving performance objectives as set out in the annual performance objectives. The development of competencies does not guarantee promotion from one level to the next.
But it is certainly a strong enabler of future promotions. The key is in how employee proactively develops their competencies and applies them on the job to meet or exceed performance objectives.
To continue meet current and future business demands, it is vitally important to identify, develop and retain individuals who have the potential to assume critical business roles in the foreseeable future. The development process need to provide a consistent and sustainable approach to the identification and accelerated development of key leadership talent within the organisation.
In conclusion, at Halliburton, along with the traditional methods of leadership development programs, the following types of alternative developmental activities to supplement formal training are also considered:
Job Assignment/ Shadowing - Employees should have the opportunity within their current role to develop their competencies. Additionally, with minimal disruption to the employee's assigned responsibilities, employees and managers should consider benefits available when employees are allowed to 'shadow' other individuals at a peer level who demonstrate and utilize competencies that fit the employee's development plan.
New Duties/ Responsibilities - Employees and managers should consider assignment of new duties and responsibilities to expand the employee's competencies once basic competencies have been demonstrated. Employees who demonstrate a high level of competency should be allowed to expand their current role if business needs permit such action.
Special Project - Employees may be given opportunities to work on projects that challenge them to develop new skills and knowledge. Employees should work closely with their manager to discuss and identify projects that will focus on the elimination of competency gaps.
Job Rotation - Achievement of certain career path objectives may require the employee to rotate to other positions within the Information Technology organisation. This rotation should be structured to allow employees to address both individual employee competency gaps and allow the Information Technology organisation to identify candidates who demonstrate the potential to assume other roles.
Halliburton jobs - Opportunities within the Information Technology organisation should be visible and accessible to the employee. Job openings posted should clearly communicate the job function and role and the required competencies of the position.
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