A growing need within organizations today is creating and developing a bench for senior and executive leadership roles. While many companies have made good strides in providing entry level and mid-level leaders with leadership development opportunities, developing the senior tier can prove to be more difficult.
Let’s face it; leadership development is a critical factor to ensure a company’s viability and continuity in the future. A great leader leaves behind a powerful legacy in terms of not only a profitable enterprise but also a strong and ready successor.
How are you grooming your mid-level leaders into senior management? Is your leadership development program designed for the modern world? How do you assess what is working and what is not?
Let’s first look at some of the limitations in the commonly used horizontal leadership development programs:
As Einstein said, “we cannot solve our current problems from the same level of consciousness used to create them”. Therefore, a different strategy may be in order to take the right mid-level leader to the next level.
Vertical leadership development is the advancement of a leaders’ thinking capacity. It explores the ways in which a leader learns to construct meaning from experiences so that they can apply their competencies more effectively to achieve both personal and organizational change. The focus is on providing development opportunities as opposed to knowledge and skills development.
Here are tips that will help you add vertical leadership development to your company:
When you introduce a new and different way of doing something, it leads to thinking outside the box for workable solutions.
For example, assign a new project to a mid-level manager, creating a first time experience. Ensure that the results are tangible and important to the company. This will challenge him or her to move from their comfort zone and look for creative ways to handle the project.
You can also heat up things by rewarding smart risk takers on the team and use a 360-feedback model to keep them on their toes.
Have you ever had a discussion with someone immediately after a powerful conference? They bubble with new ideas of how they will make changes. Now bring that excitement into practical terms by offering the leader an opportunity to work in a different department. For example, have the assistant operations manager work at customer service for a set time.
This experience will open up his or her thinking into what it takes to make customers happy and how their role in operations help or hinder the customer service team. It also helps them to become well rounded leaders, an important skill in senior management.
Vertical leadership development is all about first hand experiences and the most effective way of achieving this is through mentorship. A mentor guides, motivates, supports and inspires someone to achieve success. Spending time with an experienced senior or executive leader allows a mentee to learn from someone else’s experience.
A mentorship builds self-confidence. A couple of hours of month between a mentor and mentee forge a relationship that is beneficial to both. A senior leader’s time investment in a mentee buoys their confidence and self worth. A mentor also benefits from having a closer link to the front line and seeing the company with a fresh set of eyes.
In conclusion, we have looked at incorporating vertical leadership development to expose aspiring leaders to new ideas and mentorship. Both horizontal and vertical development has a role to play in the continued growth of leadership within your company.