I have been working with a long-time client on their recruiting process and implementing a cutting edge process.  While working the last couple of years on the recruiting process, I have gotten to know the VP of Talent Management very well and we talk often about the challenges she faced and the latest trends in the industry.  One of the challenges she had was launching a senior leadership program.  The project has been in her plans for almost 2 years but she has never managed to get any momentum; the budget was cut, more pressing initiatives were always prioritized, getting consensus on the program approach from senior leaders was impossible.  This is a common challenge for HR Executives that have been tasked with developing the senior leaders.

In an ideal world, the organization will see senior leadership develop as a critical initiative, provide the time and the resources to do it right (needs assessments, strategic assessments, 360s) and require the senior leaders to devote the time.  It will be coordinated with performance management, succession planning and linked to compensation.  However in many cases this does not happen, do how can you develop a senior leadership program without the time and resources?

Here are some key approaches that an organization can take to develop their senior leaders without an extensive, expensive SLP:

  • Just start!  You need to get something going, so start by providing learning opportunities that the senior executives will value.  Easiest is to have the execs each present a best practice that they employ.
  • See development beyond classes.  There are lots of development opportunities that include new leadership roles, reading articles and books, enterprise-wide projects none of which cost external costs.
  • Link everything to the organizational strategy.  What does the organization need to be successful, and how does that impact the way the organization needs to be led?
  • Make it individual and specific.  The most impactful development processes are linked to the individual and specific to their needs.

I have had some really good discussions with a firm that is in professional services around their leadership development.  They are going to create a very impactful program using only in-house resources, leveraging their current leadership groups and linking it to the individual senior leaders that they see as future leaders of the firm.  It is a great way to build the future without mortgaging the present.

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