Pushing the Acceleration Pedal on Business Results: Have you had an alignment recently..you know, between your business and leadership development strategies?


In the wake of a worldwide financial meltdown and subsequent reductions to leadership ranks in many organizations across the globe, companies’ top leaders are more concerned than ever about keeping and growing their remaining best talent. Regardless of the economic condition, it is critical to be as strategic about your leadership talent pipeline as you are about your business model, your revenues, your customers, and your competitive position.


To compete and thrive today, there is no choice but to align the strategy for your leadership talent pipeline with your long-term business strategy ensuring that your bench has the leadership skills necessary to deliver on present and future business goals.  The pipeline becomes a part of your leadership development strategy which is the accelerator required to enable the development of your leaders who are truly capable of driving your business goals.


A 4-Step Roadmap to an Effective Leadership Development Strategy

Our research shows that top organizations take a few critical steps to build an effective leadership development strategy:


1.       Align leadership development to company values and business goals.

With the engagement of your executives, define and document your strategic and organizational level business priorities. Next, create a clear line of sight from your business goals to your leaders’ performance expectations and work. To connect these dots, develop a leadership competency model that provides a coherent, unifying framework for the leadership behaviors that support your organization’s values and business strategy.



2.       Create a development architecture for all leader levels. 

Based on the leadership skills and capabilities that you defined for current and future organizational success, create development opportunities and individualized leader development plans that are aligned with each leader’s needs and the organization’s needs. To address the unique development needs of each leader level, develop learning opportunities, communities and networks among multiple levels of leaders and across the enterprise. Facilitate cross-functional and cross-geography collaboration. Ensure that leader-level development experiences are progressive between levels and bridge the gap between learning and real work.


3.       Define a delivery strategy that leverages targeted solutions.

Managers and leaders at each level – first line, mid-level, senior, and high-potential — have unique development needs. First-time managers need development support in establishing credibility with former peers and co-workers, building the managerial mind-set, learning leadership fundamentals, and influencing others across the organization with minimal authority. Mid-level leaders need help in expanding their knowledge of and ability to execute the business strategy, managing broader spheres of influence, identifying and developing potential leadership talent, and balancing the scale of change and agility. Senior leaders and high-potential leaders often need development experiences that ensure that they have the capabilities necessary to sustain and drive your organization’s success.  This includes leading across multiple functions or business groups, ensuring short- and long-term business results across the organization, analyzing changes in the business environment, integrating conflicting strategic priorities, developing capability, championing innovation, managing diverse workforces, and building global acumen. Top organizations design development solutions that are leader-led and focus on experiential, action-learning, simulation, and coaching opportunities through a mix of formal and informal delivery methodologies.


4.       Define evaluation and accountability standards.

Top organizations ensure that there is clear accountability for ownership and execution of the leadership development strategy. This means the establishment of a governance structure that hold leaders accountable for the development of others, measures the effectiveness and impact of individual leadership programs (and makes the purposeful decision to re-design or even retire those that aren’t aligned with business goals and/or don’t drive impact), and identifies and tracks metrics that capture the effect of the execution and impact of its leadership development strategy.


The Value of a Business-Driven Leadership Development Strategy

Leaders must create work environments that engage, encourage a sense of ownership, and accelerate learning and development. Today’s leaders are more involved than ever in teaching, coaching, and creating growth opportunities for people in order to build a workforce that is a source of competitive advantage. To do so effectively, they need the roadmap – your organization’s leadership development strategy that accelerates your business strategy.


Our research shows that organizations that have invested in business-driven leadership development strategies create clarity for all leaders regarding performance expectations; they build unity around what it means for leaders to behave in a manner consistent with the company’s culture, and they understand that agile execution will deliver on their business goals.


So, I’m curious:

What actions have you taken to ensure the alignment between your leadership development strategy and your business strategy?

Please write to me at barb.arth@bersin.com.


PS:  I’m in process on writing a leadership development strategy toolkit that will be available to our members. Regarding my question above, please do share your thoughts with me. That’s your free insurance that my tool will target your unique needs making it pragmatic and useful for you J.


In my next post, we’ll talk more about our fourth best practice of leadership development – targeting all levels of leadership for development – and just how we go about defining leader levels and making choices about how best to develop them.  

Until next time….

Andrea Derler

Andrea Derler, Ph.D., joined Bersin by Deloitte in March 2015 and leads the Leadership & Succession Management research practice. She brings international work experience as leadership trainer & coach and a solid academic background to this role. Prior to joining Bersin, she collaborated closely with organizations in the USA as well as Europe in order to pursue practice-oriented leadership research. Andrea studied international management, organizational culture and integral leadership and facilitated leadership development efforts in a variety of industries. She holds a doctoral degree in Economics (Leadership & Organization), and a Master’s degree in Philosophy. Her work about leaders’ Ideal Employee recently received wide-spread media attention in Europe and was published in the Leadership & Organization Development Journal

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