The recent passing of the extraordinarily visionary Steve Jobs has left many of us recognizing the importance of developing the next generation of leaders. Some have speculated that this unfortunate loss may leave Apple struggling, especially if leaders who can carry on the innovative thinking of their predecessor don’t emerge. It will be interesting to watch things unfold over the next few years at Apple. But given recent economic instability, and for many organizations the need to get lean and tactical, I think it is likely that for many organizations, Leadership and management development of the next generation of leaders has not been a top priority. While Apple’s situation is on our minds and in the news, I think it is a good time to revisit some of the things current leaders can do to prepare the next generation of leaders.
The decisions and actions you are making regarding talent identification and development will have lasting impact on your organization. A leader today needs to be a pro-active people builder and actively work on identifying and nurturing high-potential team members. By raising the leadership bar, leadership will become a competitive advantage for your organization. Here are a few key things you can do to get the process started in your part of the organization:
- Make seeking out and fostering the development of existing talent a priority. Find time in your schedule to do it.
- Use a development process that can serve as a guide and help sustain your efforts.
- Conduct regular development planning discussions with team members and future leadership talent.
- Use communication tools and regular coaching conversations to follow-up and fuel development efforts.
- Support employee development plans and efforts by providing resources for and removing barriers to their success.
- Demonstrate your personal commitment to their development by engaging in development initiatives and building your own development plan.
- Create a development culture where people strive to maximize individual performance.
If you are able to contribute to developing the next generation of leaders in some of these ways, it may just become the greatest leadership legacy you can leave to your organization.