We gathered a group of the most experienced and forward-thinking HR and Talent Directors to discuss their challenges around developing future leaders. Their industries are diverse, and their challenges vary, but one concern is shared. If you don’t tackle the issue in advance, you will be left with a huge leader-shaped hole and no time to fill it.
You can’t wait for the perfect plan to develop your emerging leaders, or until the senior leaders are all engaged… you just have to start. We heard from Bernadette Bruton, Global Talent and Organisational Development Director at Aviva; Elaine Vaile, Group Head of Leadership and Organisational capability at RBS; Alex Holland, Vice President of Talent and Development at RS Components and Janet Tidmarsh, Head of Leadership and Development at Sainsbury’s.
Our guests heard great insight into how these women started to change the future of their companies by tackling the difficult issues and planning a new way forward all the while moving their organisations from a state of ‘knowing’ about the problem to ‘doing’ something about it. What they all made very clear is that, as talent leads, it is essential not to get bogged down the institutional prevaricating that characterises so many organisations and just get started. The very act of putting your plan in place will, in itself, be a catalyst for change.
First you need to find your senior leaders who ARE interested in supporting and developing emerging leaders and kick something off. Reverse mentoring, an emerging talent programme, a shadowing programme. Just get started.
At Ivy House we work with clients to support their unique needs and develop programmes to support and develop the individuals. Their plans are not always fully formed when we start talking. But what we notice is that even those who start with just a few of their high potentials and create something for them, very quickly seem to attract support from areas where they previously had no traction.
Our panel members were also in union when it came to individual approaches. You can’t force one type of development programme on every colleague. By connecting forward thinking leaders with emerging talent, you will inject your organisation with a new energy. By giving them the kind of development that inspires them and makes them feel valued, you will kick something off.
Our panel today talked about the great work they are doing, the progress they are making and the challenges they still face. So don’t think all large companies have it all sorted – they don’t. Don’t think there is a silver bullet – there isn’t. But there is a very real threat… if you are not feeding your talent pipeline and preparing them for the future, you are in danger… so just start.