The Maine Association of Non-profits (MANP) recently asked me to develop a workshop on creating capacity for developing leaders. With the slow growth in the economy and job creation, many might ask: why bother with developing leaders?
Although internally, jobs may be growing at a slow pace, this does not discount the need to develop leaders and create a culture of developing leaders. Leadership and creating the capacity for developing leaders can be viewed as art, beginning with a vision.
We might start by stepping back and asking how is capacity defined? Capacity is the "actual or potential ability to perform," according to Webster's. If we are creating capacity for leaders, we are creating the capacity for employees to perform as leaders.
Looking back over the last 30 years, the following has occurred:
- 1980s: Exodus of middle management
- 1990s: War on talent
- 2000s: Retirement of boomers
- 2009-2010: Exodus of CEOs; double dip recession
The impact of these events means that companies might experience a gap in the pipeline, knowledge loss and a real need for succession planning. Without a strategy for developing leaders, we might not be creating a culture where leaders will emerge at all levels. Leadership is different than developing leaders. Leadership is a person that leads. Developing leaders is a process that occurs over time.
Think of your employees, leadership and your culture. Ask yourself:
- When and where do employees display leadership competencies?
- What roles do they play and at what level are they seen in the organization?
- Where do you see the gap in roles and level?
- How would you describe your culture in terms of readiness for developing leaders?
Next, create a vision of developing leaders and the culture that sustains the development. Begin a dialogue about the importance of leadership in your company, what roles employees have and how knowledge would be shared in the organization. Determine the gap between your vision and the current reality in your company. Then, develop action steps to tighten the gap that leads to your vision. Don't forget to set measures of success.
By creating the capacity for developing leaders, your company can slow the growing gap in the leadership pipeline, lessen the loss of knowledge and develop a culture of leaders.
Remember the words of Vince Lombardi, professional football coach: "Contrary to the opinion of many people, leaders are not born. Leaders are made, and they are made by effort and hard work."
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