Searching For Leaders From Within


One of the most effective ways a company can strengthen its leadership is to tap into its current employee pool. As Development Dimensions International explains in its 2015 Global Leadership Forecast, companies that fill a larger percentage of their positions internally have three times higher leadership strength and financial performance than those that do not. However, many companies are not taking advantage of already in-house talent and developing their current employees to set them on the leadership track.

DDI singled out some talent-management practices that companies can use to strengthen the skills of their in-house future leaders. They divided these practices into two categories: omission impact, or those practices that have a negative impact if they are not carried out; and action impact, or those practices that have a positive impact if they are carried out.  

Omission-impact practices include:

  • Giving feedback on key skills to leaders
  • Clearly defining leadership competencies
  • Having leadership competencies serve as the foundation for multiple leadership talent management systems
  • Linking leader performance expectations to the organization’s strategies

Action-impact practices include:

  • Using systematic processes to determine required leadership skills
  • Having managers regularly review leaders’ development plans
  • Using formal programs to ensure smooth leadership transitions
  • Having high-quality, effective development plans

In order to put these into action, DDI suggests that companies first focus on the practices that have a negative impact if they are not carried out by instituting, reinforcing and systematizing omission-impact practices. After the omission-impact practices are in place and are functioning effectively, companies should aggressively focus on the future, by carrying out the action-impact practices. Companies are advised to revisit these practices often to make sure they are being adhered to consistently.

Organizations do well to draw from their current talent pool to fill leadership positions. But they must be careful to focus on the two types of practices that guarantee they are developing the right talent to staff their top ranks.