In today’s business climate, an organization’s vitality rests upon its leaders’ ability to evolve, rise to meet new stakeholder demands, and navigate shifting challenges and priorities. However, traditional career development plans have placed strong emphasis on an employee’s technical skills, overlooking the interpersonal and leadership skills that are necessary for success.
As insurers respond to the exigencies of an evolving industry, which are further compounded by the maturing workforce, taking a fresh approach to leadership development is key. In a recent Insurance Journal article, Julie Dunn, assistant vice president and engagement director at The Jacobson Group, shared best practices for incorporating leadership and interpersonal skills into individuals’ career development plans. Recounting a Gartner study which found 45% of human resource professionals struggle with developing mid-level leaders and nearly as many (37%) with senior leaders, her piece, “Redefining Leadership Development,” explores areas for insurers to consider as they grow and engage their organization’s talent. Below are a few of her insights.
Determine what leadership looks like in your organization.
How organizations define leadership will vary, based on their corporate culture, values and mission. Consider the traits and skills that best align with your company’s current and future needs, such as empathy, a growth mindset, integrity and the ability to motivate others. Recognize that while some individuals may be more natural leaders, these behaviors can also be learned and fostered in others.
Prioritize the human aspect.
A recent study found 90% of human resources professionals believe focusing on the human aspect of leadership is essential for success. Beginning at the junior level, incorporate leadership and soft skills training into high potential employees’ professional development plans. Regardless of whether these programs are formally driven by HR or internally within your team, ensure you’re prioritizing leadership skills, not just technical abilities, as individuals advance in their careers. Take an individualized approach by identifying employees’ current strengths and areas for growth to create tailored development plans.
Build leadership development strategies.
As part of a comprehensive leadership development strategy, consider how you can provide individuals with a well-rounded view of your organization. Exposing high potential employees to experiences across divisions, through activities such as rotational programs or interdepartmental projects, allows them to gain broader insight into how departments interconnect. Coaching and mentorship relationships are also immensely valuable and permit employees the opportunity to connect with and learn from more senior individuals who can further support their growth.
Soft and interpersonal skills are often the difference in good and great leaders. Consider leveraging formal training around emotional intelligence and unconscious bias within comprehensive development plans. This will strengthen individuals’ ability to effectively communicate, navigate conflict and manage relationships. Additionally, it is vital that senior management leads by example, exhibiting core leadership traits and encouraging them in others.
Strategic leadership development is key to the long-term prosperity of any organization. Read the full article to learn more about redefining leadership and implementing formal leadership development plans to position your company for continued success.