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How to Fix the Leadership Gap in Your Organisation


In today's modern, fast-paced business environment, staying relevant can require complicated and ambitious strategies and initiatives, which often depend upon effective cross-organisational delivery. As a result, a company can build a team of qualified business leaders with varied skill sets, devise a quality strategy and still find themselves unable to implement it properly, due to what is known as a 'leadership gap'.

Essentially, a leadership gap is the difference between the leadership skills your organisation has and the leadership skills it needs. It is the shortfall between its current leadership capacity and its required leadership capacity and fixing it is a vital part of ensuring that your business achieves its ambitions and meets its targets.

So how can you actually go about fixing it?

Create An On-Site Leadership Programme

Research shows that companies who fill a large percentage of leadership positions internally perform better than those who primarily recruit from external sources, both in terms of leadership strength and financial performance. Yet, despite this, many organisations still do not have a functional leadership development programme in place.

For this reason, the first and most simple step to take is to create a leadership programme, which serves as team leadership training and involves some degree of succession planning. Ideally, this leadership programme should take place on-site, with candidates learning on-the-job, in order to maximise returns on your investment.

"The most reliable and robust way to ensure that you end up with leadership skills that work in practice in your organisation is to develop the skills required during business as usual," explains John Sutherland from The Leadership Initiative. "Focus the development around the delivery of real work."

Tailor the Programme to Bridge the Leadership Gap

The next step is to make sure your leadership programme does exactly what you want it to do, in terms of developing skills. More precisely, you want to make sure it allows employees to develop the specific skills you require in order to close the leadership gap in your business.

Many leadership programmes are generic in their nature, seeking to develop skills based around what an average business leader needs to be successful. Unfortunately, this approach is not effective when it comes to fixing leadership gaps, because it fails to take into account the needs of your business.

Generalised leadership programmes produce leaders with generalised skills. In order to bridge a leadership gap, you need to focus on specifics. It is vital that programmes are designed, or co-designed, from the ground up, with a view to generating the exact skills that will allow your business to push on and meet your visions for the future. Ask yourself 'what does my business need?' and make sure your programme produces the answer.

Focus on Creating a Leadership Team Through Continuous Development

The emphasis here should be on the word 'team'. When all is said and done, you need to have a group of leaders who can come together to work as a functional unit. This means each person should be able to bring something unique to the table and between them, they should have all of the necessary skills.

"Development is too individually focused," says Jeff Boss, a leadership coach, business consultant and former US Navy SEAL. "The old paradigm that attributes culture and climate to a single leader must be replaced. The secret is to spread leadership as far as possible throughout the organization."

Creating a team with all of the required skills may take time and should be seen as a continuous process. Sending an individual on a two-day off-site programme may well result in positive feedback and short-term gain, but mastery of new skills requires a follow through process and repetition. Therefore, your leadership programme should be viewed as a constant 'work in progress', rather than a training process with a definitive end.

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Alison Brattle

Marketing Manager

Read more from Alison Brattle

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