If you're company is in growth mode--which by the way, we all should be--then no doubt company leaders are thinking about the sales pipeline. Knowing what organizations you're targeting, who is buyer ready, how many leads are marketing and sales qualified and where sales can potentially come from needs to be top of mind.
But that's a results driven way to think about company growth. There's also the foundation to think about. How do you grow a sustainable organization that continually builds sales? It isn't just doing more sales...its gaining greater capability. That's about leadership.
The leadership pipeline is what drives every other channel of growth for the company. Your people matter more than any prospecting list, sales strategy or marketing approach. Your people are what create a culture for the company, and that culture is what cultivates growth.
So the question becomes not, "How can we get more sales?" but rather "What should we be thinking about in order to find, develop and grow great leaders?"
Our company specializes in creating these kinds of positive, productive workplaces where employees know themselves deeply and can translate that knowledge into more effective ways to work together. Leadership starts from the inside--an employee who understands her unique strengths is better equipped to excel in her work--and then flows outward. By understanding that we each work differently, diverse ways of thinking and behavior are valued, and communication and collaboration are strengthened. The results are that leaders are more effective in understanding and motivating those around them to do great work...because they understand what makes people tick.
But it's also about providing the right kind of skills and the environment that allows those skills to flourish. That is building the leadership bench. That is creating a way for all employees to grow and develop as leaders.
It's also a totally different animal than many companies realize...it's a whole new generation of leaders who will be taking your organization to the next level. Millennials, Gen Z...whatever the moniker, these employees are ready to step up. It's up to the organization to capitalize.
I asked an expert and partner of ours in this field, about some best practices in developing emerging leaders. Sean Graber is the CEO of Virtuali, Inc., a leadership firm built for the emerging leader generation. He had some really unique ideas about how the leadership pipeline can be built to strengthen emerging leaders, and part of that starts with providing learning opportunities for an employee population hungry for opportunity.
"Learning is a multi-faceted activity. Truly effective learning is an experience that provides an opportunity for networking, innovation, and the development of a shared culture. We have observed that emerging leaders value experiences above all else. While it may be difficult to provide the ideal "experience" in an employee's day-to-day activities, learning and development is the ideal opportunity to do just that. When done well, L&D can be a benefit that companies use to attract talented individuals, develop emerging leaders, and increase employee engagement and retention," Sean stated.
I couldn't agree more, as our approach takes individualized learning (via a proprietary thinking and behavioral assessment) to provide a framework and a vocabulary that enables leaders to discover who they are and where their natural leadership tendencies lie.
So what should emerging leaders think about in terms of how they lead others?
According to Sean, emerging leaders are entering a workplace that is flatter and more cross-functional than ever. It is a place where influence and "followership" are more important than hierarchy or titles. It's also a place that has an unprecedented rate of turnover. Leading in this environment is difficult, but emerging leaders can be successful if they are authentic and focus on others' strengths and passions.
Finally, as the landscape is constantly changing, organizations need to think about how to maintain a competitive advantage, which comes down to anticipating what's next. Here's what Sean had to say on predictions for the development of emerging leaders and Millennials in the workforce:
Millennials are leading the charge into the era of passion-centric work. More than any other generation, Millennials want to feel a connection to what they do. They want an "experience." Companies that understand this shift will invest in their employees and go above and beyond to foster engagement. That may mean rebuilding corporate culture, recreating the way work is done, or anything in between.
It's about building the leadership bench...and positioning your company for the future. Get the right people on the bus...put them in the right seats...and give them the skills, freedom and tools to drive it forward.