The Stars of the Future
A Existing management research does not tell us much about how to find and develop high-flyers, those people who have the potential to reach the top of an organisation. As a result, organisations are left to formulate their own systems. A more effective overall policy for developing future leaders is needed, which is why the London Business School has launched the Tomorrow's Leaders Research Group (TLRG). The group contains representatives from 20 firms, and meets regularly to discuss the leadership development of the organisations' high-flyers.
B TLRG recognises just how significant line managers are in the process of leadership development. Unfortunately, with today's flat organisations, where managers have functional as well as managerial responsibilities, people development all too often falls victim to heavy workloads. One manager in the research group was unconvinced by the logic of sending his best people away on development courses, 'only to see them poached by another department or, worse still, another firm'. This fear of losing high-flyers runs deep in the organisations that make up the research group.
C TLRG argues that the task of management is not necessarily about employee retention, but about creating 'attraction centres'. 'We must help line managers to realise that if their companies are known as ones that develop their people, they will have a greater appeal to high-flyers,' said one advisor. Furthermore, selecting people for, say, a leadership development programme is a sign of commitment from management to an individual. Loyalty can then be more easily demanded in return.
D TLRG has concluded that a company's HR specialists need to take action and engage with line managers individually about their role in the development of high-flyers. Indeed, in order to benefit fully from training high-flyers as the senior managers of the future, firms must actually address the development of all managers who will be supporting the high-flyers. Without this, managers will not be in a position to give appropriate advice. And when eventually the high-flyers do move on, new ones will be needed to replace them. The next challenge will be to find a new generation of high-flyers.