How to Build a Leadership Pipeline with Consulting: A Practical Guide
In today’s fast-changing work landscape, companies deal with various challenges. They must adapt to new technology and find the right employees to stay ahead in their industries.
If you’re facing similar issues, you’re likely seeking ways to ensure your business continues to grow and succeed. The solution is to develop a pipeline of skilled leaders. But how can you retain top employees in this competitive market? One effective method is through consulting.
The Need for a Leadership Pipeline
A company is more than just its owners or shareholders. It is also heavily defined based on its employees and their ability to lead and grow in their chosen fields of expertise. If an organization can’t retain its employees or find leaders who already know the ins and outs of the company, then they’re at risk of falling down the ladder of success.
In scenarios like these, having a leadership pipeline turns into a necessity rather than an added bonus.
A leadership pipeline is a structured framework organizations use to develop and promote employees into leadership roles. It aims to hire internally to ensure a steady supply of skilled leaders who can handle important jobs and responsibilities within the organization.
Having a strong leadership pipeline can offer your company many short and long-term benefits. The following are some examples of these advantages you can enjoy if you have a well-established pipeline of employee leaders.
- Succession Planning: If you have a leadership pipeline established in your company, you can ensure a seamless leadership transition whenever key positions in your organization become vacant. This makes it easier to maintain business stability since the passing of responsibilities becomes faster and more efficient.
- Time and Cost Effective: By choosing to hire internally, you’re saving your company resources that would have been spent on sourcing, interviewing, and hiring potential candidates for the vacant leadership roles. Moreover, there would be little to no need to conduct new orientations and training since internal hires are already aware of your company culture and role responsibilities.
- Improved Employee Retention: Having a leadership pipeline means you’re offering paths for your employees’ career progression and development. In fact, LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report, an astounding 93% of organizations express concerns about employee retention. The primary approach employed by these organizations to address this concern is investing in learning opportunities. This investment not only equips employees with valuable skills and knowledge but also significantly increases their likelihood of remaining committed to your company.¹
Build a Leadership Pipeline Through Consulting: A Three-Step Process
Creating a leadership pipeline, especially from scratch, can be difficult. With so many things to consider, where exactly should you begin? Luckily, you can ease your worries by enlisting external experts who offer consultations and personalized solutions.
Creating a robust pool of future leaders is achievable by supporting your consultants in constructing efficient pipeline models. This process revolves around a three-step approach: identification, development, and retention.
Step One: Identifying
Before you can use a leadership pipeline model that works for your company, you first need to identify your business needs. Collaborating with your consultants can provide valuable, objective insights for this crucial stage. Consider implementing the following four tips to successfully identify the demands of your organization.
1. Assess Your Business Needs
Your business has its own unique challenges to solve regardless of your industry. Thus, you’ll need to identify your organization’s specific leadership needs to make it easier to choose people for your pipeline. Additionally, make sure all of your business-related goals and objectives are considered during this step.
2. Define Specific Leadership Criteria
It will be difficult for you to identify the leaders you need if you don’t have a clear picture in mind. Decide on the essential qualities and skill sets your future leaders must have. By defining your leadership criteria, you are giving yourself a guidebook on what developmental efforts to focus on.
3. Identify Potential Leaders
Pinpoint your employees who demonstrate leadership potential. Note that you can use more than one form of assessment for this. It can be in the form of performance reviews, self-assessments, or behavioral interviews. What’s important is you pay attention to who will meet your set criteria after training and development.
It’s also important to view your employees with a holistic perspective. This means you need to try to see both their strengths and their points of improvement.
Step Two: Developing
In this step, you need to use the information you’ve previously learned and identified. Take advantage of what you’ve established with your consultants and start creating a developmental plan. Consider the following activities and actions to fully develop your future leaders.
1. Design Developmental Programs
Customize leadership development programs based on the skillsets you want your future leaders to have. It’s important for the programs to be personalized and catered to the unique needs of your identified leaders to maximize their leadership potential.
2. Organize a Series of Trainings
Instead of having one or two training sessions, it’s in your best interest to plan ahead and create a structured training regime. Focus the continuous training sessions on leadership-related skills and other competencies they would need in their future roles. This will ensure they are ready and equipped with the necessary education and support once they’re needed to fill key positions in your company.
3. Plan Career Paths and Opportunities
One of the best ways to develop programs is to understand the career paths you need to prepare them for. In relation to succession planning, provide your possible leaders with a roadmap for their professional journey in your company. This helps them stay motivated, engaged, and informed about what their future holds as a part of your leadership pipeline.
Step 3: Retaining
Making your employees future-ready isn’t the end of a leadership pipeline model. You also need to make sure they follow through with the succession plan you’ve created with them. The following are strategies to help you retain the people included in your leadership pipelines.
1. Establish a Supportive Work Environment
A person preparing for big career changes and heavier work responsibilities is actively in need of a supportive working environment. Thus, it’s important to establish a company culture that celebrates personal and professional growth to encourage them to continue on their quest towards career improvement.
Don’t forget to encourage every one of your employees to embark on their own journey toward career advancement while supporting others who do the same.
2. Offer Rewards and Recognition
Another way of supporting your people in their efforts towards leadership development is to create a rewards and recognition program. Acknowledge your potential employee leaders’ progress and offer small rewards that will keep them motivated.
Remember, for this strategy, the reward itself isn’t important. What’s more important is to show your trust in their capacity to grow and improve. The more appreciated they feel, the less likely they’ll move before a role opens up.
3. Foster a Leadership Culture
Making leadership a core value in your company will help instill leadership behaviors and mindset in your people. It can make leadership skills a necessity and an integral part of what defines your company. This opens up more opportunities for your people and a more diverse group of qualified individuals who can become leaders one day.
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1 LinkedIn Learning. “Building the Agile Future.” LinkedIn, 2023, https://learning.linkedin.com/content/dam/me/learning/en-us/pdfs/workplace-learning-report/LinkedIn-Learning_Workplace-Learning-Report-2023-EN.pdf