Dr. Mark L. Vincent's Blog

The Organizational Development Muse

An executive leader development scaffolding

Posted by Mark L. Vincent on Feb 9, 2020 6:20:00 AM

Recent months have brought abundant conversation on how next-generation executive leaders might be developed within an organization — especially in a healthy company that is straining its capacity. Conventional wisdom says that developing from within best continues a strong company’s momentum, and that hiring externally best redirects a company that has lost its way. In either scenario, the ability to develop and position executive leaders becomes especially important!

Out of these conversations comes the following scaffolding, which offers a simple overview and trajectory: 

 1. When hiring and recruiting in general:
  • Build leadership development expectations into any job description.

  • Make use of Adizes method (or similar) initially as a part of the hiring process, including the writing of a job description and desired candidate profile.

    •  Disciplined use of a method like this helps to quickly, consistently, and helpfully identify the best prospects.

  • Use other pre-existing internal tools for second- and third-round interviews.

  • Hold interviews with board/HR/Director/etc  to cover specific criteria related to the job as well as generic criteria surfaced by the board. For example:

    • ability to problem solve with future value in mind

    • ability to articulate top/middle/bottom line of key decisions that touch financial performance

    • ability to see and articulate near-, mid- and long-term while doing strategic thinking

      • Make use of a rating method that can compile and rank/stack all of the above.

 2. General ongoing leader formation sequence (expected of all current and potential  C-level execs and their direct reports - choose multiples from below and add your own):
  • Enneagram - especially IEQ9

  • DISC for Leaders

  • Culture Index or Core Values Index

  • EQ measure and plan

  • 3 Biggest Challenges (use an Outside Coach)

  • Dark Side of the Leader (use an Outside Coach)

    • Build on what the leader has already completed and tailor the time/sequence, expecting to have this done within 18 months of hire with completion tied to executive compensation.

3. Individual ongoing leadership formation (built around the individual current and potential C-level execs):
  • Articulation of an executive leadership theory and practice  (Outside Coach)

  • Individual learning plan touching on any/all:

    • industry they serve

    • personal and/or skills development

    • executive coaching —often tied to peer-based advising, see below

    • peer-based advising

  • Annual review — method changed every third year

  • Executive team development within their company

    • This is tied to what the leader has already achieved and tailored to the specific person and context. A high degree of accountability must be built in, reflecting both what the company needs and what the individual wants to achieve.  This should begin to be developed no later than the second year of the executive’s tenure.

Making executive leader development deliberate, and a key aspect of staff development and retention is necessary for any successful succession planning. There is no perfect system. What you have here is a starting point, one with which to get started and learn as you go.


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Topics: process consulting, organizational development consulting, organizational development muse, Mark L. Vincent, Design Group International, executive leadership training, executive vocation


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