A company is only as effective as its leadership. Good leadership needs to cover the entire range of an organization’s operations. Not only does this support the practical aspects of the business’s production, but also its administrative sector.
Unfortunately, gaps in leadership aren’t immediately apparent because of how complex some company structures are. Companies that fail to address these gaps could see potentially damaging fallout from a lack of guidance in specific departments.
To help, 14 professionals from Forbes Coaches Council examine several practical strategies that businesses can implement to figure out their leadership gaps and what steps the company should take to plug those holes.
1. Start At The Top
It all starts at the top. Companies don’t identify leadership gaps, people do! But it won’t do the company any good unless the people at the top are willing to identify gaps even if they are the problem. Second, the people at the top must budget for bridging the gaps by approving leadership coaching/training. Finally, accountability for improving the key performance indicators of leadership is required! – Jeff Klubeck, Get A Klu, Inc.
2. Watch For Issues On The Team
Leadership gaps are commonly mistaken as employee issues. When there is increasing team conflict, gossip or problems with accountability, it is almost certainly being created by those at the top through lack of awareness, not intention. Working with an outside consultant who can assess the team dynamics and provide an objective assessment of the situation is an investment worth making. – Candice Gottlieb-Clark, Dynamic Team Solutions
3. Assess The Talent You Have
Figure out what you currently have on the team. Look at the skills that are lacking and determine where you can get those skills. Can you grow them in-house or recruit from outside? This gives you a game plan for developing your people to increase effectiveness. Identify weaknesses early on in your high potentials and work that into their career and personal development plans. – Ed Krow, Ed Krow, LLC
4. Make Surprise Visits
Sometimes, identifying leadership gaps in your organization is cause for promotion. Try making surprise visits to your work center to identify the self-starters doing great work. If you have an informal leader already filling gaps, this could be your opportunity to promote a dedicated person who will be able to do even more with the appropriate training and delegation. – Mika Hunter, Female Defender
5. Use The Vacation Test
Succession planning is essential for every organization. How do you know how solid your plan is? Here’s a simple test. Write down the key leaders you have in your organization. For each one, ask yourself what would happen if they went on a three-week vacation? Who would step in? How prepared are they? What level of confidence would you have in their replacement? Now, go fix the gaps! – Peter Stewart, Stewart Leadership
6. Crowdsource Employee Perspectives
Engage your employees in fast, frequent and focused conversations about topics that matter. Leverage your existing LMS or consider using a product like Waggl, which crowdsources the employee voice through strategic questions that can be answered anonymously. Employee insights are aggregated and prioritized giving leaders actionable solutions to perceived gaps in leadership or the business. – Lisa Zigarmi, The Consciousness Project, LLC
7. Use An Organizational Development Practitioner
Whether utilizing an internal or external practitioner, organizational development specialists can use a rigorous organizational research methodology to truly understand leadership gaps that are negatively impacting the business. We all have skill and competency gaps, and some are more detrimental than others. Focus on those gaps that, when corrected, will most strengthen the organization. – Jonathan H. Westover, Ph.D, Utah Valley University & Human Capital Innovations, LLC
8. Do A SWOT Of Your Leadership
First, define what leadership looks like in your organization and be specific. Once an internal definition of leadership is clearly defined, use a simple, low-tech tool like a SWOT analysis— Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats—to assess potential gaps. You’ll get a clearer picture of what areas need more attention for potential candidates in future leadership roles. – Susan Sadler, Sadler Communications LLC
9. Link Leadership To Strategic Objectives
Leadership requirements shift depending on the economic climate, the size and maturity of the organization and many other factors. When identifying the gaps between what is and what should be, pay attention to the short- and long-term ambitions of the organization and the type of leadership that will help you be successful today and tomorrow. A good senior team reflects on this once a year. – Edyta Pacuk, MarchFifteen Consulting Inc.
10. Push The Envelope
Just as learning to crawl involves gradual trial-and-error attempts, a strategy management can use to identify leadership gaps is to methodically test directors, managers and supervisors with responsibilities that go above and beyond what they normally handle. During this pushing the envelope process, performance gaps, as well as new strengths will become evident—helping the company fill the void. – Rick Itzkowich, Vistage Chair San Diego
11. Leverage 360-Degree Reviews
The fastest and most honest way to identify leadership gaps is to employ the use of 360-degree feedback to gather anonymous insights into leader behavioral performance and the impact of said behavior. Have certified professionals debrief leaders on the feedback and develop focused growth plans to close any identified gaps in behavioral performance. – Erin Urban, UPPSolutions, LLC
12. Talk To The Lowest Rung On The Ladder
I feel many execs focus on listening to their leadership team instead of talking to the people they manage. You can learn a lot more about gaps by talking to the people who are not invited to the boardroom than you can by talking to your C-suite. Spend some time developing programs to touch base with your core employees and find out what they are running up against on the daily. – Kate Bagoy, Kate Bagoy International
13. Listen And Encourage Others To Speak Up
Some of the essential steps for identifying the leadership gaps are leadership’s ability to listen, understand and act upon the feedback they are getting from those they serve. To get valuable feedback from people across the organization, it is necessary for leadership to create a safe environment where everyone can speak up without fear of the consequences of being transparent. – Nikola Cvetanovski, Maktech Consulting Ltd
14. Invest In Tailored Development Solutions
Generalized, off-the-shelf training fails at the leadership level. Further, group-based leadership workshops are often not specific enough to be truly effective. Instead, leaders need highly specific development work customized to each individual’s exact growth requirements. The most effective way to deliver this in-depth training is through external coaching by a highly trained business coach. – Cheryl Czach, Cheryl Czach Coaching and Consulting, LLC
This article originally appeared at https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2020/05/29/identifying-leadership-gaps-14-strategies-that-work/