More leaders sooner: 5 ways to accelerate your leadership pipeline

Over the past two decades, the changes in business practice have completely redefined what leadership means today.

We’ve come a long way from when leadership used to be just about a senior executive directing their team in the pursuit of an organisation’s goals. That kind of leadership was personality-driven – propelled by whatever an individual’s dominant traits and characteristics were. Companies can’t survive with that kind of leadership today.

We’ve all heard of leaders and companies that didn’t want to change with the times and weren’t able to revive themselves from the downfall they had steered themselves to. The pace of disruption is high and the demands for time, results and output are picking up – plus the models of leadership and leaders have changed to emphasise effectiveness and shared focus.

The modern workplace needs a different leadership style and mindset from leaders where everyone in the company can look at themselves as a leader and be able to contribute in ways that help the team and move the organisation forward. Managers can’t just be managers anymore – they’re also expected to inspire their teams and develop them for the future.

For instance, in this disruptive age, the responsibility for innovation can’t remain solely with top management. Organisations need innovation to come from everyone and realise that they need to have a culture of innovation. However, to build that culture, they need to have leaders who understand this and can engage their teams to innovate.

Successful leadership is no longer synonymous with achievement; it’s not just about business growth anymore. To be effective in today’s fast-paced and complex world, a leader needs to be agile; have a sense of purpose; have a strategic vision; be inspirational and engaging; be able to deal with ambiguity and complexity; be able to coach and build teams; and be innovative – all at the same time.

Leadership acceleration is essential
Have you taken a look at recent statistics on the future of our global workforce? Eighty-four per cent of organisations today anticipate a shortfall of leaders in the next five years. Ten thousand baby boomers (born 1946–64) retire each day and nearly half of all millennials (born 1983–2000) will occupy the workforce by 2020.

How can organisations create leaders who have the knowledge, skills, experience and wisdom to close the gap that the baby boomers will leave? Effective leadership is the only way to manoeuvre through this and prepare for the future.

Organisations need to be able to define what leadership means for them and to have both sturdy existing leadership and a solid pipeline of capable executives, who have the skills and the character needed to take up leadership roles in the future. This is what makes leadership acceleration not only essential but also indispensable.

Leadership – how to develop and coach individual leaders and leadership teams, and build organisational capability – needs to be made easy and simple for leaders today who are busier than ever.

Advancement can no longer be left only to those who have years of experience, as in the past. Though rising budgets for corporate learning and development signify that many organisations realise the need for accelerating leadership development, not many organisations are using those budgets to accelerate leadership development at all levels.

The need for more leaders sooner requires us to think differently about how leaders are formed and will require that we think differently about talent readiness, essentially, replacing some of the work-based experiences and time for growth we once relied on to populate our succession plans and leadership benches.

More than ever, organisations need to rely on all available talent to step up and step into leadership. This means leadership is now synonymous with inclusion. Gone are the days when leaders learned about ‘difference’ in basic diversity training or simply took for granted that there is a dominant ‘way’ to lead that is representative of most top management.

5 ways to develop your talent now
All leaders, with an eye on developing future leaders, will need to question deeply held assumptions about what leadership looks like and how to facilitate ways for everyone to step up. Specifically:

How we interview, coach and review the performance of diverse talent must be grounded in bias awareness and an insatiable curiosity and openness. We can’t afford to shut out those who can’t – or won’t – lead. This means thinking differently and openly about everything from where and how we get work done to the kinds of communication practices we employ, making room for different styles and approaches.
How we think about ‘readiness’ and ‘risk-taking’. We know women, for example, are still promoted based on performance, while men are promoted based on potential. To accelerate leadership, we need to first become aware of beliefs that may be causing constraints, and then take more chances on not only women but also other members of underrepresented groups who may not look or act the way those in many leadership positions do. We need everyone.
As leaders, when we try to develop the individual talent available in our teams, we need to follow the ‘teach-do-feedback-do’ cycle to accelerate development. This is where you show the ropes to your team members, make them do what is required of them, give them feedback, and then make them do it again. This cycle should repeat itself until they have become confident and an expert at it.
When we do elevate any talented leader in an accelerated fashion, we must ensure the leader has strong support and sponsorship (advocacy, just-in-time coaching and development) if we want them to succeed. This applies to women especially, because of the perceived risk often associated with these appointments as well as some of the ways women speak about themselves (often offering a full picture of their capability, complete with areas they may not feel as confident in).
Coaching skills (early, often and just-in-time feedback) for leaders will become essential. We know that underrepresented populations receive less feedback – ultimately doing them and the organisations they work for a disservice regarding the full value these groups can add to leadership.
To be successful and meet the future head-on, organisations must adopt a mindset that grasps the need for the development of its leaders, challenges conventions and recognises the learning styles of the modern workforce, to accelerate leadership and create a stronger bench strength that is ready for the next level. Remember, we need everyone.


Why Companies Should Publicly Disclose Their Workforce Policies

Human capital issues are becoming increasingly important to modern day corporate success. Over the last several years, some of the biggest U.S. corporations have enacted better workplace policies, from making efforts to narrow the pay gap (Salesforce and Microsoft) to providing better training (JPMorgan Chase and Walmart).

Even investors are starting to pay closer attention. Recently, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Investor Advisory Committee responded to petitions by institutional investors to incorporate human capital management into its corporate reporting and disclosure regime by recommending the SEC examine the case for better disclosure. This will only up the ante for human capital performance measurement and encourage companies to signal their leadership on transparency around the issues most important to the American people—their treatment of their workforce.

At JUST Capital, we spent the last year analyzing 890 of the largest publicly traded U.S. companies on their approaches toward key human capital management issues identified as priorities by a representative sampling we conducted of over 80,000 Americans. This assessment of the current state of worker-related policies across corporate America revealed a sobering picture: It’s still the wild west of workforce policy disclosure with little direction on how to best measure issues like pay equity, paid time off, paid parental leave, flexible work, diversity and inclusion policies and targets, provision of day care services, worker training policies, and tuition reimbursement. The lack of standards on this also means investors are unsure of how to evaluate the information once it is disclosed. These results support three major takeaways:

The first is that public information on these workforce policies is incredibly difficult to find. We found that only 2%—or specifically 18 of the 890 companies we analyzed—disclosed their workforce policies on all the nine issues we studied. This suggests that either the majority of companies have not committed to creating these workplace policies, or that they are reluctant to reveal results. Whatever the reason, this first step seems to be the hardest right now. Public disclosure, however, can pay dividends to those that commit to it: The companies that disclosed their workforce policies generated up to 3% higher return-on-equity than their peers.

The second takeaway is the lack of consistency from companies who do disclose such policies. Absent any mandated guidelines or reporting requirements, there are wide differences between the quantity and quality of information provided—meaning that the information, while not useless, is significantly less impactful. There’s no clear way to identify leadership and best practices for all companies to emulate and not enough data—therefore little research—to assess if leadership on workforce policies is delivering on investment.

Take pay equity: The actual disclosure varies widely from employer to employer. Different companies use different terminology, ranging from gender wage gap to pay disparities to gender equity. Most make generic statements representing adjusted pay gap figures like, “Women are paid on average 95% of what men are paid,” or that the company has achieved “100% pay equity for women and men.” With agreed-upon standards, and then agreed-upon ways to measure them, the market would be able to create apples-to-apples comparisons and understand where the leaders and the laggards actually are on these topics.

Finally, it is unclear what progress is actually being made beyond the declaration of policies. Even though companies had made public pledges to improve their workforce policies, it was nearly impossible to tell whether those pledges translated into tangible change for workers (such as whether companies are actually hitting their diversity and inclusion targets or whether workers are experiencing a greater work-life balance through flexible work hours, paid time off, and parental leave). With reporting standards, those assessments could be made.

The market, and indeed society, cannot begin to benchmark and incentivize enhanced performance on these critical workforce issues until more companies disclose their actual policies as the first step. Companies can establish themselves as leaders by providing greater transparency and investing in their workforce as their most valuable asset. Their workers, and their shareholders, will benefit.

Martin Whittaker is the CEO of JUST Capital.


Five key ways to foster employee engagement through L&D

Employee engagement has never been more critical, the lack of which has devastating results for a business in the form of attrition, low productivity, and a stunted organizational growth. Although part of the solution lies within L&D, engaging employees is a complex and often strategic process that needs to evolve with technology and the way we work.

According to the 2017 Gallup State of the Global Workplace report, 85% of global employees are disengaged at work (18% disengaged, while 67% not engaged at all), which means that although employees are giving organizations their time, they are not necessarily performing their best. And this has resulted in dire financial outcomes for global organizations, with nearly $7 trillion in lost productivity.

The APAC countries, especially Southeast Asia, have an engagement percentage of 22%, with the average engagement percentage in India amounting to as low as 13%. According to Dale Carnegie’s recent online survey of 450 employees in India, only 35% of respondents felt they were engaged at their workplace and that their organization provided them with effective training, while 19% were negative or neutral about effective training. The survey also revealed that 51% leaders felt that engaged employees were more productive, while 31% agreed that engagement made their work easier; all of which make an obvious case for investing in employee engagement initiatives.

Employee engagement is not to be taken lightly, especially in today’s competitive markets, as the Gallup Q12 Meta-Analysis report indicates substantial improvements in retention, productivity and profitability in organizations that have a highly engaged workforce.

For many organizations, the most obvious question is how can they boost engagement? The good news is that the most obvious answers are well within reach and can be found within Learning and Development (L&D). For most organizations, training programs are the primary communication tools to reach employees and give them the necessary knowledge to perform better.

According to Deloitte, ‘Learning opportunities are among the largest drivers of employee engagement and strong workplace culture – they are part of the entire employee value proposition, not merely a way to build skills’. Learning in itself is more engaging, and if it is delivered in an effective manner, it can certainly improve productivity and performance.

Here are five key ways in which organizations can foster employee engagement through L&D –

Promote a Culture of Learning
Conversations around employee engagement are almost always devoid of ‘what exactly do organizations want their employees to engage in/with?’ Employees need to connect with something (their jobs, teams etc.) and feel they’re a part of something larger (leadership, growth, and progress).
L&D professionals can work alongside business leaders and identify organizational values that employees can engage with, which can then be weaved into the training programs to create a sense of belonging and pride within the organization, thus fostering a larger learning culture. Organizations must work with L&D professional to identify the kind of learning culture they want to develop, one that is in sync with the organizational values and larger business goals. Learning culture can be facilitated by tools and systems that enable continuous learning that’s accessible, just-in-time, relevant and personalized for the learners.

Emphasize Onboarding & Training
Employees are often frustrated and annoyed when they are not aware of their responsibilities since the beginning and end up playing catch up. Newly appointed employees need to be properly oriented into the business processes. Here, employee onboarding programs are one of the primary steps organizations can employ.

A Glassdoor research suggests that organizations with effective onboarding programs improve employee retention by 82%. In an age where unemployment is decreasing and job opportunities are increasing by the day, candidates have numerous employment choices, which make it highly important for L&D professionals to engage their employees from the get-go and thus maximize their retention rate. A negative or less than effective onboarding experience leads new employees to look for better opportunities as per Digitate, effectively doubling the cost to hire a new employee.
Along with a strong onboarding program, training programs upskill and help the employees stay competent and the business, successful. According to long-term research conducted at the Middlesex University for Work-based Learning, 74% participants assert that lack of training is the biggest hurdle in achieving their full potential at work.
L&D professionals can thus not only help the organization retain employees but also help them learn faster and become (and stay) more productive.
Prioritize Employee Growth & Development
According to a Gallup poll, 87% millennials and 69% non-millennials value career development in their jobs. Employees desire both professional and personal growth opportunities while deciding to join an organization. They want to learn new skills and seek newer challenges, which in turn lead to higher engagement, as employees are constantly productive.
L&D professionals need to set up effective training programs to engage their employees in their job roles and the workplace as a whole. Training programs ensure that employees are aware of their KRAs and have the required skill-set to achieve them, and progressively upskill them to meet the demands of the evolving workplaces and technological advancements.
L&D professionals can offer a variety of training programs that enhance employees’ skill set and add more value to their daily tasks. The learning can further be incentivized to reduce boredom and ensure there is more scope for growth in that position. Many organizations also offer educational assistance, which shows employees that their organizations value their professional growth.
Leverage Social Learning & Collaboration
Engagement is not a standalone term. It is an amalgamation of many factors ranging from interest, involvement to collaboration and consultation. And, L&D personnel can take this as a cue for promoting social learning and informal learning.
According to Bersin by Deloitte, organizations with a workforce of 10,000 employees invested thrice the amount on social tools from the previous years, while a Brandon Hall Group report suggests that 73% of organizations are set to prioritize social learning in the coming years. This clearly indicates that L&D professionals are increasingly seeking out social learning initiatives for corporate training & development in order to leverage their subject matter experts’ (SME) knowledge throughout the organization.
Apart from leveraging social learning tools like LMSes, L&D professionals also need to be the icebreakers and jump-start the conversations within different teams and groups, just like in any social setting, and encourage ways to foster online discussions and collaboration; and leverage an LMS where employees can share, like and comment and engage in true social learning.
Use Learning Technology as the Enabler
Last but not the least, L&D professionals should also focus on employing the right kind of learn-tech tools (LMSes) that fit their specific training and engagement requirements. It is the correct mixture of content, learning, and technology that will produce long term results and help achieve the collective learning goals.
Corporate training has gone through drastic evolution over the past decade, moving away from the very limiting classroom-based training to a more flexible online process. Learning technology, with innovations like virtual classrooms, Gamification and Artificial Intelligence, has transformed training delivery strategies. Where organizations end up spending 40% of classroom training budget on logistics, a learning technology-based approach is more cost effective and drives learner engagement and knowledge retention.
An LMS with innovative features like Gamification, Blended Learning, Virtual Classrooms and more, can go a long way in boosting learning engagement. Learning analytics has recently emerged as an irreplaceable tool when it comes to improving engagement, as it enables organizations to analyze the data (learning behavior, patterns, completion rates etc.) and customize the training programs to suit the needs of the employees.
Organizations need to invest in the L&D function and provide them with the right learn-tech tools that can become an effective driving force behind improving employee engagement. An innovative LMS can pave the way for organizations to finally address the issue of employee engagement, thus improving productivity and building a great learning culture.


Why Lateral Career Moves Are Actually Power Moves

Sometimes, the field you studied in school doesn’t turn out to be the perfect career fit. Or you spend many happy years in a certain part of the business, but eventually you’re no longer fulfilled.

It’s easy to feel stuck, and making a big career change can be daunting.

But Lisa Alteri, Chief People Officer for Kraft Heinz U.S., is a firm believer that big career changes are possible at any point. The keys to success: Lean into your curiosity, and embrace the power of the lateral move.

“It’s hard to quell that evil ego,” Alteri says. “In general there’s an obsession about titles because title is associated with status, and that’s where the ego comes in. But you as the individual care so much more about the title than your current or future organization does. And those lateral moves can bring so much more than a title.”

Alteri knows that well: She started her career decades ago in the finance organization and enjoyed great success. Then she pivoted to sales and rose quickly through those ranks, too. And most recently, in October 2018, she moved to the people function in her current role as U.S. chief.

“It’s something I try to encourage within people when it comes to their performance: Don’t think of moves as just about moving up — think also of moving laterally,” says Alteri. It doesn’t have to be as hard as you might think, she adds. Here’s how to make that big career move (or moves), and feel fulfilled at work again.

Follow your curiosity.
This is Alteri’s key piece of advice throughout your career-change journey. “If you’re really interested in something, chances are you’ll be good at it,” she says. “So you’ll have the perseverance and drive to keep learning.”

But how can you discover that curiosity, especially if you’re feeling uninspired in your current position?

For Alteri, the answer lay in her exposure to different parts of the business while working in finance. Among other positions she served as an analyst at General Electric’s manufacturing finance division, and later in operations finance and regional business management at Kraft.

“I did almost every possible rotation in finance, and the more I did that the more curious I became about those other aspects of the business,” Alteri says.

Your job may not offer that kind of exposure, so it’s also smart to seek advice from trusted managers or mentors. They may be able to place you on cross-functional projects, or at least offer advice about how to explore your next step. In Alteri’s case, a mentor at Kraft served as the catalyst for her first big career move. Had Alteri ever explored other functions, he asked, such as sales?

“Nobody in finance ever considered a functional move to sales,” Alteri says, laughing. “It was known as ‘the dark side’!”

Related: Switching Jobs Internally — How to Apply & How to Manage the Transition

Don’t fear a lateral move — or even a step (or two!) down.
After the conversation with her mentor, Alteri made connections with senior leadership in the sales function, and she ultimately accepted a role that was two pay grades below her finance position.

“I realized that I didn’t have the experience in sales that I did in finance, so I shouldn’t expect I would be at the same level there,” Alteri says. “To be honest, even as I think now about all the different roles I’ve had over my career, that was the hardest, scariest step to take.”

Alteri had to start all over, but once again, she proved herself in Kraft sales: She rose from roles like customer business manager positions at different grocery chains, to national director of sales planning & strategy of the entire grocery business unit, and ultimately to vice president of sales for the beverage business unit.

“It just shows that it’s OK not to know everything at first,” Alteri says. “There’s a rush of excitement when you make a change, and that can carry you through.”

Be honest with yourself about whether you want that promotion.
That feeling of excitement — or lack thereof, at times — can be another important guide, Alteri says. As she had risen to sales VP for Kraft’s beverage, the obvious next step was for Alteri to become the head of the U.S. retail operation.

“It was the natural progression, but I’ve never managed my career in a linear fashion,” Alteri says. “My sanity check has become: Does this give me an adrenaline rush, the butterflies in my stomach?”

So don’t simply work toward, or accept, promotions in your current field simply because it’s “just how it’s done.” At each point, assess how you really feel about the role and whether you feel excited to continue down that path.

For Alteri, the U.S. retail chief role just didn’t feel right. She reflected instead on what gave her those adrenaline-fueled butterflies.

“At this point and level in my career, every role I’m in is really a people-managing role,” Alteri says. “That thought gave me butterflies because I recognized functionally I didn’t have the people experience. I’m lucky to work for a company that truly does live by pursuing your curiosity, so it was a good time to have that conversation with senior leadership.”

Make the case to leadership.
Kraft ultimately created the role of U.S. Chief People Officer for Alteri, who stepped into the position in October 2018.

But not all companies may be as receptive to conversations about 180-degree career moves, Alteri notes. In that case, it’s on you to make your case.

“Especially if you’re in a traditional, hierarchical organization, you need to show you have a track record of delivering, of success,” Alteri says. “But that’s just the first step, the table stakes that are the price of entry.”

To convince the company you’ll likely need to go several steps further, explaining why the move makes sense for the organization at large and how you’ve built colleagues’ trust in your capabilities over the course of your career there.

But before you march into the boss’ office, ask yourself a few questions first — and be very honest with the answers, Alteri says.

“Can you look at yourself in the mirror and state what your legacy is?” Alteri says. “How is this organization better for you having been there? That’s the gut check. If you can’t confidently state your legacy, you likely need to do that work before you move to the next step.”


When I Negotiate My Salary, I Bring Up These Three Essential Things

It can feel like a daunting task to negotiate your salary. We have been told that asking for more money isn’t polite. As a millennial, however, I firmly believe you should always negotiate your salary when you’re starting a new job, as well as when you’re up for a promotion with your current company. Though this can admittedly be a challenge, it can make a difference of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

That said, sometimes it isn’t possible to negotiate your base salary. There may be a wage freeze, or the company may simply not be able to offer more for that position. If you find yourself in a situation like this, there are other items that make up your total compensation that you can negotiate instead.

By bringing up these three things during salary negotiations, I’ve been fortunate enough to get higher compensation. Now it’s your turn.

Vacation Time
If you’re anything like me, you’d kill for another week of vacation. It may surprise you that you don’t need to go to extremes at all; this is probably one of the easier items to negotiate. In my experience, most companies would rather give you another week off than increase your base salary, especially if they have compensation costs they are trying to keep under control. So, don’t hesitate to ask.

Signing Bonus
If your company can’t increase your base salary, or if you have costs that you have to pay back to a former employer, it can definitely be worth it to ask for a signing bonus. Keep in mind, though, when you have costs to back, it’s really important to give your new employer a firm number. I’ve found a new employer typically doesn’t want you to pay anything out of pocket for taking on the new job, so they are willing to find a way to make this work.

Tuition or Tuition Reimbursement
If you’re planning on pursuing education to further yourself in your new role, you might want ask your new company to cover the cost of your education. It’s all in how you frame it. Remember, in many situations, covering this expense will mean a tax deduction for the company. Plus, you’re furthering your skills as an employee, making you a better asset to have. It’s a win-win. If you can spin it as a positive to them, they are more likely to pay for what you’re asking for.

This May Surprise You: McDonald’s Offers Serious Tuition Benefits for Employees

Regardless of what you’re asking for, it can be scary, but know that you will be in a better financial situation for doing so. So, when you’re feeling those nerves, remember that your future self will thank you for fighting for your ability to increase your income.