If you think management positions are immune to the looming workforce shortages that are expected to leave the production floor and engineering rooms without qualified talent, you may be in for a rude awakening. Baby-boomer retirements could leave companies with a leadership void, writes Eric Herzog in his book, Future Leaders.
Herzog, who as founder of Quest Consulting & Training Corp. has worked with large manufacturers such as Hyundai Motor America and Honeywell International Inc., notes that too many companies don't develop internal leaders. "Leadership development has all too often been viewed as 'someone else's responsibility,'" Herzog states.
His program, Leader-Led Leadership Development (LLLD), utilizes an organization's successful leaders' knowledge to groom successors. Herzog stresses that human resource departments should not be ultimately responsible for developing capable leaders. Rather, companies should "partner with today's leadership, providing the resources and tools they need to make it happen."
According to Herzog, current leaders teach future managers:
- What makes their organization successful, and why
- What is expected of leaders in their organization
- How to leverage their organization's unique best practices
- How to think critically and make the best possible decisions about today's issues.
He cautions that simply teaching leadership traits isn't enough. One way companies can effectively build leaders is by citing real-life examples, or through "action learning." As leaders review the different scenarios and potential outcomes, they begin to learn how to make critical organizational decisions.
Herzog repeatedly cites retailer Costco Wholesale Corp. as a company that successfully implemented the LLLD program. Senior leaders, including the president, at Costco are directly involved in the leadership training process. This helps the current leaders gain more insight into what their future managers/executives already know and puts them in a better position to reinforce learning and development and link it to workplace activities.
"In LLLD, leaders align what's being taught with their most critical corporate goals and strategies, and then reinforce learning by aligning their behavior to support it," writes Herzog. "This often requires the company to change long-standing policies, to 'walk the walk' as well as 'talking the talk.'"