The CEO's imperatives for leadership development

by Evan Davies, Chief Executive - VIC, QLD & NZ | |   Managing People
The CEO's imperatives for leadership development

CEOs come and go. But leadership, if developed in a comprehensive way, endures. Long term business performance comes from leadership culture and careful and continuous development of leadership at all levels.

In a recent CEO Institute Syndicate meeting, a guest speaker spoke on the imperatives of leadership development. He commented that CEOs come and go but leadership, if developed in a comprehensive way, endures. The moment a CEO starts a job, the clock starts ticking. Senior leaders must hit the ground running; formulating and executing transformational strategies. With an aim to create a better business.

While the CEO is a very important person, success requires the hard work of leaders at all levels, who must make countless decisions and behave in ways supportive of the strategic direction and overarching purpose of the organisation. Long term business performance comes from leadership culture and careful and continuous development of leadership at all levels.

Developing leaders from within the organisation is a priority for driving change. Leadership development can and should be a powerful tool at the CEO's disposal to advance strategic growth and execute change. CEOs have relatively few strategic levers to drive real strategic change. The predictable levers include compensation, budgeting, process improvement, increased measurement and accountability, new technologies, reorganisation and revitalised communications. That should make leadership development even more appealing. However to be effective, leadership development needs to be more than aligned with the business strategy - it needs to be part of the strategy.

Effective leadership development is a CEOs most underutilised tool to advance the execution of an ambitious strategic agenda. A company's level of maturity in their leadership development has a greater impact on their long term business performance than almost all else. And this impact transcends changes in the CEO.

Key learnings from guest speaker

  • High-Performing enterprises directly link leadership strategy to business strategy

    Regardless of who the CEO may be, operational execution takes place at the mid-level and supervisory level. When these individuals are well aligned, coached and trained, the enterprise prospers. High-performing companies understand this and build a leadership development regime which trains, supports and selects people who drive the company strategy. Doing this, they build execution into the culture.

  • High-Performing enterprises develop leaders at all levels

    High-performing businesses understand that execution takes place at the grass roots. It's the line managers, supervisors and middle managers who make things happen. If the CEO doesn't push his or her leadership strategy down effectively, it won’t take hold.

  • High-Performing enterprises invest in leadership development

    Research has found that the companies ranking top in leadership development maturity invest 30-40% more money in leadership than their peers.

  • High performing companies develop a leadership philosophy

    These companies don't just hire a consultant or send people to leadership courses. They develop their own unique, research-based leadership model.

The CEO plays a role, but not alone. When a new CEO enters a company one of the most important things they must do is assess the current leadership culture. They then decide how they want it to change. If they see too much complacency or lack of alignment, it's up to the CEO to drive a new culture of teamwork and accountability. Only when that message reaches the team will the company turn around.

The CEO Institute, established over 25 years ago, helps business leaders like you connect with your peers to share skills, insight, and experience. The CEO Institute's leadership programs are available globally. To register your interest in any of our programs, click enquire.



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