Employee development is rightly seen as critical to the success of any company. In our knowledge age, getting the most out of employees is something that companies cannot thrive without. What’s true of the rank and file should also be true of the executive team.
i4cp have recently published a study looking at the most effective ways to ensure leaders have the skills they need to thrive in the modern workplace. Their research focused on what the best organisations do differently to the rest when it comes to leadership development, and they discovered several key trends.
The importance of coaching and mentoring
One of the key differentiators was the use of coaches. The report found that high performing organisations made extensive use of both formal and informal coaches and mentors. This was reflected in their preference for more informal learning, with high performers found to use mentoring nearly twice as much as their low performing peers.
This mentoring often took the form of pairing up rising leaders with experienced executives. The mentoring assignments may have a fixed time span, with a clear and measurable ROI expected from the process.
A more informal form of mentoring was also popular, with a relationship brokered on an ad-hoc basis between interested parties. In such a relationship it was found to be unlikely that either side would receive training in effective mentoring, but these relationships would often endure.
Coaching and mentoring on a more peer to peer level was also found to be popular, albeit at a lower level than the boardroom. The report reveals that these relationships often form voluntarily, but nevertheless cautions that some guidance on effective mentoring should be provided.
A social blindspot
One potential omission from the report was in the method of delivering the coaching and knowledge transfer. There is ample evidence to suggest that internal social networks offer both extensive opportunities to share knowledge across organisational hierachies, whilst also giving participants in these exchanges the confidence to provide support and advice up the chain as well as down it.
Nevertheless, the report provides an interesting insight into the executive development field, and should be a good read for anyone with an interest in that area. You can access the report below.