Who owns the leadership development process for the company? I mean who is the ultimate person responsible for ensuring that you’re recruiting, hiring, and retaining talent for your company. I would not be surprise if some said Human Resources or others said the CEO. Those who selected the CEO are half right. Ensuring the recruitment and retention of key talent is a shared responsibility between the CEO and his board. Human Resources are responsible for developing and administering a reasonable process that assists the CEO and Board in ensuring that Leadership Development takes place.

“Forget capital, strategy, R&D. In today’s fast-paced, global economy, the most important criteria for success may well be a robust, active process for identifying, developing, and retaining leaders three or more levels below the CEO.”

As companies move in the direction of expanding their operations overseas, they have an ever increasing requirement for talented managers throughout the ranks of the company. Thus, the need to make sure they have a process in place for identifying, developing, and keeping leaders in their companies. Boards of Directors have the responsibility of holding their CEO’s accountable. For making sure there is exists a pipeline of talented and capable individuals who can make the upward transition positively and not in an abortive manner such as experienced at Dell Computers or Starbucks, where the CEO’s whose return were necessary to bring the companies out of the doldrums and shore up failing stock prices.

Our experience has shown that well defined strategies, and superbly designed products are useless, without talented people to implement the strategy and manufacture, sell the product, and manage the processes required to get it all done. It’s incumbent on the CEO to make sure they have well designed and developed workforce plan that allows for strong recruiting and provides an intractable path for retention of talented employees at all levels of their organization. If this means that, they have to become personally involved in the leadership training great. What better way for the CEO to know the strengths and weaknesses of their talent pool.

So when considering what the CEO’s can do to develop leaders in their organizations? I feel there are three key areas:

  1. Working with their BOD to determine what and how they are going to measure potential new leaders in the company. How they are going to educate and train them so they are successful in moving the company forward even if that means doing things differently.
  2. Demanding that their Human Resource Function provides a process by which they (the HR department) are constantly on the lookout for talent individuals that will bring value to the company, helping those employees who are no longer motivated or who do not have the skills needed for the job leave.
  3. Be actively involved in the education and training of those identified as potential future leaders. Do this by teaching some of the leadership classes, also having members of your senior management staff engage in coaching and teaching as well. The following quote supports what we are saying:

“First, people have to have the right experiences. Second, they need some kind of mechanism to process those experiences. And third, they have to have the inclination to learn.” – Tom Saporito CEO RHR

By involving the board and focusing HR on results, oriented leadership development is how a CEO can truly develop leaders.

© Timothy A. Wilson 2012. All Rights Reserved