Large-scale leadership development requires investing in organisation-wide change.

Every day throughout a large organisation, hundreds of leaders make countless decisions, each one either supporting or harming business efforts. To this end, siloed talent and reserving leadership training for the 1% executive team is a thing of the past – leadership development has to be done at scale to empower the current leaders and mentor the future generation of leaders.

It’s a daunting exercise, requiring a considerable investment of time and resources and immense skill to cater to different generations, cultures and learning styles. However, if done right it will be the very thing that enables your organisation to achieve results and meet its business objectives while maintaining an engaged and content workforce.

Why develop leadership at scale?

Successful leadership development at scale breeds a workforce with a visionary view of the global marketplace and a more integrated view of the organization. Further benefits include improving financial performance, increasing adaptability and success in navigating change, attracting and retaining top talent, accelerating innovation, and developing market agility.

A study conducted by the Institute of Corporate Productivity involving a total of 665 global organizations, revealed that half of the managers admitted to “talent hoarding” and not developing employees with potential to the next level. Revealingly it was high-performing companies that encouraged the movement of talent while low-performing organisations were 2.5 times more likely to not have leadership programmes in place.

A winning strategy for effective leadership development

Scaling leadership is more than just another HR Leadership and Development programme – it’s a sweeping initiative that requires a whole system view and the organisation to speak in one voice. The process needs commitment across the organisation and buy-in from leaders throughout the business.

A strong strategy is required from the outset that takes the following into consideration:

  • Sees and communicates the big picture for the company
  • Understands which phase the business is in and matches the development course to the needs thereof
  • Appreciates the differences in culture and learning styles at play and adapt the training accordingly
  • Works in cycles that allow time for putting information received into practice to ensure a transformative process
  • Encourages collaboration, teamwork and empowering others
  • Enforces measures for ongoing accountability

Create the architecture to implement the strategy

Any strategy implemented has to meet its recipients at the point of their developmental need. Leaders learn in different ways, so it’s critical to create the right architecture with different methods of learning to deliver the right content at the right time, at the right level.

For maximum impact:

  • Focus on the skills, behaviours and practices required by individual leaders to support the business strategy.
  • Design appropriate learning groups for the dissemination of information. As mentioned, human beings take in information differently, acknowledge that and cater to it.
  • Employ techniques for translating lessons from the information received using the concept of “leader-as-teacher” to filter the learnings in an effective manner to the rest of the organisation. Enable them to self-lead and empower them to teach others.
  • Make adequate resources available to the team.

Not confined to top tier leaders, each level of the organisation will be impacted by new goals and strategies. Consider which leadership practices will need to be executed differently as a result of the new strategy. Do this by identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the company and comparing these to the opportunities and threats in the marketplace.

At times it is necessary to bring in an external partner to consolidate your leadership development plans. Our cross-functional team at Factor10, in partnership with Potential Life, will create a multi-month leadership development programme for your staff with experiments that allow them to trial, practice and ritualize the daily behaviours that reflect the most productive, resilient and agile leaders of today.