Gill Kelly, explains why developing an emerging-leader cultivating culture, and enabling potential leaders to gain first-hand leadership function experience, is beneficial to all.
With the onset of shared services and the recent spending round highlighting the need to make further cuts within the public sector, the concept of ‘emerging leaders’ is increasingly being discusses as essential for sustainability. Finding future leaders who have advanced project management, and financial modelling skills, as well as leadership qualities is essential for local authorities and their current senior management teams.
Recognising emerging leaders also ensures that an organisation does not have to search too far for the next C-suite. Identifying and nurturing talent from within an organisation, rather than recruiting from external sources, helps to ensure sustainability, consistency and the retention of elements which have made an organisation successful. Building a work environment that supports this is worthwhile as it will establish a springboard for talent.
Furthermore, one of the most rewarding aspects of leadership is being able to share your knowledge, skills and experience with those who wish to follow in your footsteps. Informal knowledge sharing, rather than text book learning, will help retain and pass on core skills to a future leader as well as delivering job satisfaction. There are simple ways to encourage and develop emerging leaders which will benefit the organisation as a whole, and a few are highlighted below.
Open a door
Opening doors, and creating access to opportunities, is one the best things you can do as a senior leader. The next generation need to begin to shape their development through hands-on experience and opportunities – as well as benefiting from mentoring from a senior leader.
Paint a picture
Leaders need to understand and see the bigger picture, and like a Rubik’s cube, they also need to grasp how all the pieces fit together. As well as functioning as an individual, leaders need to see what the rest of the organisation looks like outside their area of expertise. Senior leaders need to communicate this information clearly.
No one likes to move outside their comfort zone, but by encouraging an individual to take on a new challenge, core skills will be developed. It will also help them to be open to learning from new experiences and to develop a rich bank of knowledge which they will need in their future role.
Being able to inspire and motivate are core skills for leaders, particularly in difficult times. For many this is a learned skill. Networking helps to provide support, advice and information to emerging leaders on how to do this. Interpersonal skills and insight into people and behaviour will benefit a future leader. The more 'people intelligence' they can gather, the more they can value differences and lead in an enabling way when that opportunity comes around.
Some common reasons often cited for not developing a springboard for future leaders include; a lack of time and resources, internal politics, and saddling already overworked individuals with even more work. However, you do not need a large people management department and dedicated resource to tackle this issue. Utilising outside expertise can help you to achieve this.
At CIPFA-Penna we work with our clients to boost their existing pool of talent and to source appropriate people to suit their organisation. We believe our clients deserve a focussed and specialised approach to recruitment. With our own team of senior and experienced associates we bring value and expertise to the often complex process of sourcing, selecting and appointing executive and highly skilled staff.
Today, planning for a future small state is a challenge facing many management teams, and finding people who can unlock resources and assets with potential leadership skills will be a vital component to shaping local governments that succeed.