Business success is a journey, leadership is the compass

Leadership identification and development continues to be one of the most pressing business issues keeping executives awake at night. Every business has the same aim: success and sustainability. Established routes to this destination include competitive advantage, new technology to improve productivity and product innovation, and cost reduction to secure pricing efficiencies. Without superior leaders, none of this is possible.

Companies progress through a life cycle from seed to start-up, growth to established, expansion to mature, and then to decline and exit, or renewal through invention. In the same way, leadership identification and development progresses through a cycle.

Leadership consulting offers the most suitable answers to these current dilemmas by helping leaders to align their people strategy with their business strategy; providing scientific and objective information through assessments; designing development interventions to help leaders function at their highest potential; and then embarking on acquiring and retaining leadership talent when talent needs to be acquired and not ‘home-grown’.

In order to remain competitive and relevant, business leaders must start by aligning their talent strategy with their business strategy. This is critical because talent strategies translate the company’s vision and values into expected employee behaviour and define how they will contribute towards the company’s success. Misalignment is likely to result in strategic goals not being met.

It is a myth that only large organisations need a talent strategy. Smaller organisations are more at risk because there are fewer possible successors in unique roles.

In addition, not only is it important to understand the current talent pool within the company but also future needs. This is done by analysing the readiness of the current leaders to meet the future business needs of the organisation and provides a realistic pipeline of leadership talent.

Plan your talent for five years from now and not only for today; look to the future of the company. Use competency assessments to test employees’ long-term strategic thinking ability, innovation, as well as their flexibility in decision-making, because these are critical skills for building a successful business.

Assessments are an objective and scientific way of gathering insight into a person’s current functioning and future potential. They provide an understanding of the impact of the person’s behaviour on others in the workplace. If the assessment tools used are valid, reliable and culture-fair, and if assessments are professionally conducted, the insights are extremely useful.

Most leaders are built, not born. Top performers take responsibility for developing their knowledge, skills and competencies. There are many ways of doing this, including leadership development programmes, on-the-job training and executive coaching, which is a powerful way to provide support to leaders and help them navigate current and future challenges. Executive coaching can help turn good leaders into great ones.

If leaders within the company are not yet ready or fully developed, leadership needs to be acquired, preferably with the assistance of a reputable headhunter or talent-search professional for those executive level positions.