Bob Joyce knows what his replacement looks like. Maybe the Westfield Group chairman and CEO can’t pick out the face, but he can at least describe the person’s traits.
If you know what makes you successful, you know what to look for in future leaders. And you know what training to offer.
To develop a leadership profile, look at your current leaders. Westfield identified nine competencies, including business acumen and the ability to motivate others.
“Involve focus groups with several different sets of leaders and the folks that report to them, people that can answer questions like, ‘What uniquely describes success in this role? What attributes do you value most in a high-performing leader?’” says Jackie Rybka, human resources performance and development manager.
“Sometimes, competencies are selected based on what you want to be rather than what you are,” she says. “If you have an aspiration that your company is going to more effectively manage change, then you would force that into a profile just to try to further the development of that competency.”
Measure employees against that list to detect potential leaders.
“We define the role first, the competencies around that role and the right person,” Joyce says. “You can close the loop if you’ve got training.”
So if you want a leader with business acumen, teach your employees how to make profitable business decisions.
Westfield turned to Kevin Cochran of Aarthun Performance Group Ltd., who customized a training program called Profit Specialist for the company.
Profit Specialist teaches financial metrics and, by showing employees how each measurement affects the results, improves profitability. The course features a Monopoly-like board game with spots for the company’s quarterly measurements, from underwriting expenses to investment income. Players move around the board plugging in numbers for a mock year in business. At the end, they complete practice financial statements.
As soon as you can, apply the classroom teaching to its real-life application — in this case, by going over your company’s financial statements with them.
“One of the best ways to really reinforce it and find out if people are getting it is go back and actually show them the actual score,” Cochran says. “It’s kind of like a football team; if you cover up the scoreboard, they don’t understand the score. They’re not as compelled to compete. So we’re taking the cover off the scoreboard.”
How to reach: Aarthun Performance Group Ltd., (281) 580-5705 or www.aarthun.com