In the first part of our Got Change series, we discussed strategies that can help current leaders readily grasp changes in the marketplace. However, it is important to prepare your future leaders to be agile and adaptable to these changes as well. There are two ways to do this. For many of our clients, they employ both simultaneously. As discussed in Got Change Part 2, your organization can hire candidates with these skills. And, as we will discuss today in the final blog of our Got Change series, your organization can invest in growing and developing your future leaders. Here are a few ways our clients develop future leaders:
Leadership Development: Many organizations have already implemented a traditional leadership development program. Some organizations even develop a formal corporate university which may include featured speakers, videos and simulations, or attending conferences. This will help your future leaders become agile to a range of market challenges, adaptable to new technologies and ideas, and collaborative with both colleagues and external partners.
Mentors: To augment leadership development programs, many of our clients promote the use of mentors. We find many successful programs include identifying strong mentors for your future leaders both inside and outside the organization. “Mentorship, delivered in an authentic manner, shows that you care about employees’ professional progression. It requires knowing a mentee’s ambitions and capabilities, their successes and challenges, and the ways you can help push their ball forward,” explains a recent HBR article, Keeping Great People with Three Kinds of Mentors.
While internal mentors are often easier to identify, you can help future leaders identify external mentors by joining relevant membership organizations. The different perspectives will help develop agile employees who have the ability to “connect the dots” and understand a range of market challenges.
Involvement in Special Projects: Lastly, some organizations take leadership development to the next level by actively using involvement in special projects for their high potentials. By changing the environment, future leaders will learn to quickly and effectively adapt to different cultures, situations, environments, and teams within your organization. These employees will not only become more comfortable with change but also have the potential to be change agents for the organization.
This can also be used for the executive team. For example, in 2011, Frits van Paasscheen, CEO of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, moved himself and his senior leadership team to China for a month to study the market. Harvard Business Review sat down with van Paasschen earlier this year to discuss this trip further.
“The origin of the idea was when I was operating a business overseas. People come over from the head office and I tried to show them as much as I could in a week. But I always felt like somehow the picture wasn’t complete,” van Paasschen explains. “The most important [impact of this trip] is intangible… I believe that the best business decisions are made by people around the table with different perspectives but the same goals.”
China is one-third of the organization’s overall growth so understanding this market was essential. By exposing the senior leadership team to this market, they could make better business decisions because they had a more complete and first-hand understanding of the market’s needs. Starwood continued these trips to learn about other markets such as Dubai and Brazil.
We have found that many organizations use a combination of hiring and developing agile, adaptable future leaders to their organization. We will continue to watch this issue and keep you informed on the trends we hear from our clients and candidates considering preparing for the always changing marketplace.