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VIEWPOINT: Leaders know, go and show

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I recently read Deloitte’s Human capital trends 2015 and learnt some valuable things about building future leaders that I’d like to share with you.

According to Deloitte’s survey, building leadership is Africa’s paramount issue in the arena of human capital. The capability gap for building great leaders has widened all around the globe and organisations across the world are struggling to strengthen their leadership pipelines. In fact, 86%  of all surveyed human resources and business leaders cite leadership as one for their most important challenges. Over the past year, businesses fell further behind in their ability to develop millennial leaders.

What is needed to improve the situation? A focus on leadership at all levels, coupled with consistent year-over-year spending, is key to building sustainable performance and engaging employees in the new world of work. But how do companies go about this? The survey offers some solutions:

  • Commitment must start from the top. Without CEO ownership, leadership development will probably never be a long-term commitment. As John C Maxwell once said, ‘A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.’
  • Answer the question: Leadership for what? What are your top business priorities? Use your answer to build a capability framework for selection, assessment, development and succession.
  • Develop inclusive leaders at all levels. Many executives worry about top leadership, but with hands-on experience at an operations level, it’s mid-level and first-level leaders who are the future strategic leaders of the organisation. Capable and engaging managers and supervisors can drive performance, foster engagement and increase retention.
  • Make talent development and succession a priority. Don’t forget to reward leaders overtly for developing successors and sharing talent.

Deloitte’s report reminded me that in today’s rapidly evolving business environment, organisations must keep developing the kind of leaders who are keen and able to engage employees, push forward growth strategies, drive innovation and work directly with customers. Companies that fail to invest continuously in the leaders of tomorrow may find themselves falling behind today.

Author: Brett Tromp CA(SA) is CFO of Discovery Health