Create a common thread in your leadership development - for greater impact in your organization

Rasmus Thy Grøn, Partner, LEAD and Nicole Baandrup Nielsen, Partner, LEAD

Improved leadership quality, greater impact of development efforts, better resource utilization and an HR function that acts as a proactive, strategic partner for the organization's leaders. These are just a few of the benefits that a systematic leadership development framework can produce. For example, what good is general competency development if all leadership talent leaves the organization and new leaders are not onboarded properly? To ensure a strong leadership foundation, both now and in the future, you need to think holistically about leadership development as a task and establish organizational systems and guidelines for onboarding, talent development and general competence development.

Strong leadership foundation now and in the future

If organizations want great leaders at all levels, a systematic approach to leadership development is necessary. It's not enough for new managers to get a brief tour of the department on their first day, or for managers with years of experience to be automatically sent on an optional training course.

Building a strong leadership foundation requires a much more systematic effort than what some organizations' non-standard support practices can muster. The development of a strong leadership foundation requires a systematic approach to leadership development that goes all the way around - from talent development and talent nurturing to onboarding new leaders and strategic competence development of the organization's experienced leaders (Grøn, 2017).

Create a common thread in development activities

Developing a strategic leadership development framework is time-consuming, but it pays off in the long run. Aligning your organization's onboarding, talent development and general competency development activities around your organization's strategy and leadership framework can achieve the following results:

  • A common thread is created in the organization's leadership development efforts, which strengthens leadership quality throughout the organization.
  • The number of HR services are reduced and streamlined, often creating more value for managers and saving the organization resources overall.
  • It clarifies the HR function's value creation in relation to the core business, thereby creating a solid foundation for becoming a strategic sounding board for the organization's leaders.
  • This brings leadership development efforts close to the core business and the managers' everyday lives, creating far greater impact and value.

The path to a strategic HR function

Systematizing and synchronizing HR systems is a perfect springboard for the HR function to become a proactive and strategic sparring partner for the organization's leaders - something that many organizations are looking for.

Developing a strategic HR function requires a streamlined repertoire of leadership development activities that are closely linked to the organization's strategy, day-to-day operations and core business.

Unfortunately, many HR departments are often so busy that they don't have the time to see their own services and tasks from a helicopter perspective. It's a shame, because this is often part of the reason why organizational leaders struggle to make sense of the HR function's services.

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LEAD offers certification in the development of agile leadership with the development tool "Leader Versatility Index" (LVI)

With a certification, you will be equipped to use LVI in development processes in your organization at the individual, group and organizational level.

Three key areas of leadership development

In the work of systematizing leadership development activities, it is useful to distinguish between three types of leadership development initiatives, each of which has its own specific purpose and requires a special effort. These are:

  • Onboarding - ensuring new leaders are properly dressed in the organization
  • Talent Development - developing leadership talent for the future
  • General competency development - ensures the ongoing development of competent leaders in the organization.

Focused work on all three areas, both separately and together, is necessary to create a strong management foundation with a common thread across all activities. Systematizing and integrating the three areas often results in

  • Strengthened management quality - because the efforts across the three areas are coordinated and pull in the same direction
  • Greater impact of development efforts - because it creates an overview and coherence in the development of the organization's leaders
  • Better resource utilization - because synergies are achieved by aligning the three management development areas, which reduces the number of concepts and services and enables the use of larger framework agreements (and thus a reduction in overall costs)
  • A smaller number of leadership development offerings - because a clear connection to the organization's strategy and leadership foundation often reduces the number of services and means that the services are perceived as adding more value to the core business (Grøn, 2017).

In this article, we have focused on onboarding, talent development and general competence development as three of the most central activities to systematize and synchronize with the organization's strategy and leadership foundation. Of course, in today's organizations, there are far more HR systems, processes and tools than just these three - see figure 1. In our experience, the more HR systems and tools that are synchronized, the greater the impact and results for the organization. However, synchronization processes can be extensive, so it's a good idea to break them down into stages to reduce the risk of ending up with a pile of half-baked concepts and ideas.

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