In a recent blog, I talked about creating future leaders by building on successes. I advised doing this by mapping the behaviors of existing successful leaders in the organization with the Bizet Job Activity Rating job profiling tool and using these behaviors as the basis for developing future leaders. I suggested “gently” adding new behaviors to the target behavior list, using our behavioral leadership library based on personal effectiveness, relational effectiveness and assertiveness. In my view, gently means adding at most two behaviors every two years.
A client who read my blog asked me if perhaps new behaviors should be added more aggressively lower down in the organization. For example asked the client: “shouldn’t the most junior high potential employees be taught the behaviors that will be added six years from now when they are approaching the executive ranks?” The logic of this approach is apparent. If today’s junior high potentials can be taught to exhibit the behaviors that will be needed in six years, then they will be ahead of the game, so why not do this? Not so fast. There are two good reasons to approach this very cautiously:
- People learn much more from how their existing leaders are behaving than from developmental interventions. Asking future leaders to walk the talk which they do not see at the top is a tough mission, perhaps impossible.
- Who’s to say that the leadership behaviors needed in six years can be accurately forecasted today? We could be teaching our high potential’s the wrong new behaviors. This is not to say that the behaviors would be bad, just that that may well be higher priority behaviors in the future.
So, my response is that gently means gently, even with the most junior high potential employees.