Current leaders are best positioned to develop future leaders

An example

Here is a remarkable case from CLG’s experience, where we assisted a dynamic new CHRO in a $2 billion financial services organization. She inherited a weak talent pipeline with a very low percentage of positions filled internally. This meant external hires, many of whom failed to integrate, costing the company productivity and high recruiting fees.

What caused the company’s pipeline breakdown?

  • Leaders didn’t understand that developing talent was a critical accountability of theirs. They focused on delivering results and expected people to somehow develop themselves.
  • What development did occur, happened in silos. So, when they needed enterprise-level thinking, there were few internal candidates.
  • Most importantly, the five critical capabilities needed for leaders to be good talent developers were often missing.

The CHRO and her team ensured that existing leaders possessed the five critical capabilities to build a real pipeline of leadership talent.

They quickly implemented a program that developed existing leaders’ capacity to become primary talent spotters and developers, to create development opportunities, to use a powerful coaching feedback tool, and to receive training in interpersonal awareness. Here are the before/after percentages for internal promotions, which increased dramatically:

Internal replacement success
  Before End of year three
C-Suite 0 percent 80 percent
Vice president 29 percent 90 percent
Director 43 percent 85 percent
Manager 69 percent 90 percent


What you can do.

With HR’s help, all leaders can improve their skill in the five critical capabilities, and thus improve their ability to develop upcoming leaders. Start by answering three questions:

1: What is the status of your leadership pipeline? (retirements, available candidates, talent strategy and development, succession plans)

2: Is senior leadership aligned and bought in? (Do they care deeply about talent development?)

3: Are key organizational levers aligned to create a culture that accelerates leadership development? (We use a proprietary analysis tool, DCOM®— Direction, Competence, Opportunity, Motivation — to assess the quality of these four elements. All must be robust to assure real performance. If any is missing or weak, your organization will be seriously handicapped.)

Organizations need solutions — now — to address the gaps in their leadership pipelines. Unleashing the power of “leaders developing other leaders” can multiply the efforts of HR and talent professionals exponentially. Ultimately, this is just good business.

For more, download the free whitepaper, “HR Creates Competitive Advantage by Helping Leaders Become Developers of Talent.”



Kim Huggins is a partner at CLG. She is a nationally recognized consultant, speaker and author in the areas of leadership and understanding the generations. Her book, “GENerate Performance! Unleashing the Power of a Multigenerational Workforce,” has been cited as an invaluable leadership tool for any business wanting to attract and retain talent. She has a passion for and experience in generational diversity, change execution, leadership development/coaching, organizational development, employee engagement and cultures of innovation.

Michael Cannon, Ph.D., is a senior associate consultant at CLG. He utilizes evidence-based approaches and a keen strategic outlook to help organizations make real, sustainable change happen. His expertise in psychology and human behavior enables him to understand individual and team strengths and to pinpoint the best opportunities to improve performance. He has also trained hundreds of leaders across North America, helping them improve their leadership presence and to develop coaching and feedback skills to manage their teams’ performance more effectively.