Managing Leadership Across The Employment Spectrum:-
I recently came across a situation, where retrenchment happened just because of unwise business projection and deferred implementation development of offshore projects by the top management. It will be obvious by now that development - both individual and organizational - is a strategic activity before it is a training activity. An integrated approach calls for a structure, culture and license for those with strategic HR responsibility to have access to relevant decisions affecting recruitment and selection, training and development, career and succession planning, manpower planning, reward and recognition, and so on. The point of discussion here whether the responsibilities of these retrenchments come to the top management’s lack of leadership or to the poor people who joined early and suffered?
These recruitments also require a spirit of co-operation, rather than a 'silo' mentality which provokes competition between these specialties and/or status-quo. Anything less (i.e. conventional separation of development - conceptually and sometimes geographically) will produce a sub-optimal outcome.
Organizations that have an unplanned, tactical or reactive approach to leadership fail to capitalize on their investment in development. For example:
- They may develop leaders at great expense, and then let them languish in unimportant jobs where their talents cannot be used fully
- They structure the HR function in such a way that one department recruits talent while another selects people for redundancy on the criterion of cost rather than ability
- They fail to deal with poor leaders when they become part of the problem rather than part of the solution
- And as we said earlier, they pour leadership talent in at one end of the employment pipeline, and carelessly let it escape at the other end.
These commonplace scenarios display a lack of joined-up thinking and action. To optimize leadership for the organization, the employment process has to be integrated and consistently managed at all points on the spectrum.
Managers with strategic responsibility for development need a remit that enables them to aware of, have access to, have influence over, and work closely with, their HR colleagues, on a range of decisions and systems affecting leadership, rather than taking spurious decisions on recruitment and then retrenchment.
Issues arise at, or approximate to, place on the employment spectrum (i.e. phases in people's careers that call for optimal HR management). Besides having development programmers at an appropriate career point, other considerations include:
1. Are we clear what leadership we are going to need?
2. What leadership talents need to enter the system?
3. How can the most talented leaders be allocated the most important jobs?
4. Should newly developed leaders receive a change of job following an intensive training program?
5. What criteria are used to assess the effective practice of leadership?
6. How is good leadership defined, recognized and rewarded (and bad leadership 'warned with positive feedback')?
7. What criteria are used to assess suitability for promotion to senior leadership positions?
8. What provision is made for successors?
9. How does leadership talent escape unplanned, as well as formally exit, the organization?
The above perspective calls for a fresh look at who is responsible for leadership development strategy and what that responsibility comprises. In summary, the need for co-ordination across the employment spectrum means that all HR professionals, but especially developers, have an interest in ensuring that leadership talent is appropriately:
iv) Developed (Trained)
Underpinning all these steps is a clear definition of what effective leadership looks like. This needs to be accompanied by clarity and determination to address poor and unacceptable leadership.
If the organization is getting any of the above steps badly wrong, or if there is inconsistency in policy, then leadership (at the level of the overall organization) will fail however well individuals are trained educated and known as talents or process owners.