As CEO of a company, no matter what its size, much responsibility and decision making lies on your shoulders. However, it’s unreasonable to think that one man or woman can know and manage all things at all times. As companies grow, the need to have other trusted leaders within your ranks gets evermore important, both for manageability, future proofing and due diligence. So, far away from the archaic leadership model of King and subjects, today’s most successful organisations help to develop other trusted executives through leadership mentoring.
One of the areas of concern we often come across is where CEOs and their C-suite team or directors become frustrated with their company’s ability to scale. They’ve built their business with substantial growth and profitability, but have begun to hit a wall as the growth curve starts to flatten. Getting an experienced and often entrepreneurial CEO/C-level mentor involved, may add a new perspective and be just the catalyst that’s needed to recharge the growth effort. Think of it as a new lens into the enterprise that helps evaluate business strategy and each member of their team.
The benefits of leadership mentoring
The benefits of leadership mentoring are multifaceted, and while creating a culture that values leadership mentoring can mean a shift, its long term results are invariably worth it. They include:
- Creating a flexible and resilient company that isn’t entirely reliant on one individual.
In turn, that can be seen as adding greater commercial value to a company, which is not built on the reputation or knowledge of just one person.
- It also allows for greater checks and balances for better decision making as well as taking some daily pressures away from the CEO, which makes their role more sustainable.
- As a company, developing the abilities of other leaders exposes it to new ideas and ways of thinking, which can be valuable for its long term success.
- Having a company recognised as a place that nurtures talent can attract, engage and retain the best in the industry ensuring the best skill sets within your ranks as well as reducing the likelihood of high staff turnover.
- A culture of personal growth also helps to improve staff morale, performance and motivation as a whole.
- Good leadership at all levels can increase the productivity of your people, which in turn is good for the company growth and development as a whole.
Advocates of leadership mentoring
It will come as little surprise perhaps that there are some big names cited amongst the world’s best companies for developing leaders. Procter & Gamble is a perennial winner in the competition to develop strong, purposeful leaders, alongside the likes of General Electric, Coca-Cola, IBM and Unilever.
Another well known organisation with impressive formal processes in place to nurture leadership include EY, whose EYnnovation program aims to take young potential leaders and have them work in conjunction with young companies, helping develop their leadership approach alongside assisting the companies throughout their growth phase.
However, you don’t need to be the biggest company with the biggest budgets and the biggest, most formal programs in place to develop strong leadership within your team.
The most effective way to develop effective leaders
The success of leadership training always depends on how it is done. For many that’s more about having on the job guidance than systematic training programs. Leadership comes more easily to some than others, and it is a particular skill in itself. Often people find themselves in leadership roles because they were at the top of their game in a technical role, but the skills of leadership are very different to the function of a a technical job. Furthermore, no matter what your natural talents, really effective leadership is honed over time.
The Harvard Business Review, commented: “once people reach the C-suite, technical and functional expertise matters less than leadership skills and a strong grasp of business fundamentals.” The statement came from an examination of executive profiles developed over the past decade by the executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles. The requirement, it seems, is short term advisory roles at C-Suite level, thus lending itself to a selection of gig style board members with targeted remits for different phases, rather than permanent senior members of the team.
In our experience, the most effective way to combine on the job learning with the effective execution of a role along the way, is the presence of a gig-style mentor or leadership coach. This can help both existing business leadership to discover how to help new leaders, as well as providing coaching for specific members of the team. Our team do this on a fractional basis, being present for key development stages, perhaps when someone is new to their role for example, or on a part time basis throughout the year in a similar capacity to a non-executive director.
Available for calls, consultations, guidance and reassurance, a dedicated gig style leadership mentor has been in the role occupied by leaders at all levels, and understands the challenges of both managing new leaders and being one. Without competition or agenda, their advice and support is entirely impartial, allowing someone the space to grow into their own style of leadership, whilst also having the support to keep them and their responsibilities on track while they learn.
The result is a secure, nurturing opportunity to develop for both the individual and the organisation.