The Senior Leaders Role in Leadership Development

Leaders are the lifeblood of your organization.  With out them the mission goes nowhere. Those on the lower level of your leadership pipeline are often the hands and feet of making the vision become a reality.  The more leaders you have the more expansive impact your organization can have. So it’s vital that the senior leader value the leaders under his command.  But what is his or her role in developing a broader, more expansive pipeline of leaders?

Here are Five Essential Actions a senior leader must take to ensure the continual population of his organizations leadership pipeline.

  • Talk About It: Senior leaders can sometimes underestimate the power of their own voice.  When they talk about something people listen and respond.  What you’re vocal about can easily become a value in the organization. Talk consistently about raising up new leaders.
  • Systematize It: Most organizations have no strategy or system for developing leaders. Leaving the leadership development of your organization to chance is poor stewardship of people’s potential. While the senior leader doesn’t create the system, he ensures that a simple reproducible system is in place.
  • Expect It:  Inspect your pipeline regularly.  While the senior leader is not the one who oversees the development of the pipeline of leaders he must certainly have a constant awareness of its condition.  I recommend once quarter the senior leader receive a written report of who is in the pipeline, what level they are at and whose advancing and showing promise for the next level.  He also needs to be aware of who on his staff is raising up leaders or not raising up leaders.
  • Model It: Nurture the development of his or her direct reports. Senior leaders have great demands on their time.  In fact, this often becomes their excuse for not practicing leadership development.  However their responsibility is to continually be developing the leadership character and competencies of their direct reports.  This keeps him and his team growing consistently.
  • Celebrate It:  What gets celebrated gets replicated.  Senior leaders when you begin to celebrate the reproducing leaders in your organization you’ll begin to see a culture shift toward leadership development.  Too often our focus is on celebrating the new leader, rather than the one who actually did the hard work of raising them up.  Reward, recognize and celebrate

In a nutshell if you want to shape a Culture of Leadership Development – Talk about it, systematize it, expect it, model it and celebrate it.

6 Replies to “The Senior Leaders Role in Leadership Development”

    1. Thanks Brian. Here is the very broad outline of what I teach at a 2 day Leadership Development Intensive (a two day process of helping a church design their overarching Leadership Development Strategy)
      The goal of the “system” is to build an abundant harvest of reproducing leaders which will result in a culture of leadership development. How do you do that? You have to work through 4 areas…
      1. Structure – It starts with aligning your structure across all ministries (Ministry pipeline & a Operations Pipeline) A church must work to align the levels of their pipeline & the language of their pipeline. I’d recommend reading Leadership Pipeline by Charan.
      2. System – What is the process map of moving someone up each level of your pipeline? THis process should be aligned across all ministries. (We tend to allow silos in this area) The question is how does someone move into entry level leadership in a ministry area, work their way up from Leader to Coach, to Director to Pastor? There needs to be a defined map for each step.
      3. Content – What competencies will we teach as we move people up our leadership pipeline? Each level should have defined content.
      4. People – Who are the people in your pipeline? The Pillars of each ministry, those who have potential to move to the next level, and prospects that aren’t leading yet. Here we also define who will be the trainers that will help develop other leaders.
      One other exercise I have churches do is define an Over-arching Leadership Development Strategy. (Jesus developed leaders in 3 environments: Mentoring (his 3), Huddles (his 12) and Conference (large group). Hope this helps. Trying to give you a snapshot of a FUll 2 day intensive process. Thanks for reading the blog.

  1. Was going to ask for the exact thing that Brian did above. ^^^ I think you should write a whole series on this. (1) General overview and the different pieces of a great system. (2) A post (or two, or five) on all the pieces of the system. Of course you probably won’t do it all at once… but man, I would LOVE that!

    As far as THIS post goes? Awesome. I’d be especially interested, too, in hearing more about “MODEL IT.” I received an “insight bomb” the other day (don’t you love that term?) It was “Your priorities are what you DO, not what you SAY they are.” If leadership development really was THE important thing for senior leaders… would there ever be an excuse not to do it? #Hmm.

  2. Of course, the best way to learn the strategies, Brian and Mike? Attend a Leadership Intensive with Mac Lake! I highly recommend. It will change the way you think about leadership development.

    And Mac… had a suspicion that I would hear these five action steps again….. great stuff!

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