Solid Leadership Advice
Solid Leadership Advice: 10 Ideas For Building Your Leadership Bench
Strength & Improving Company Performance
By Gayle Lantz
When it comes to leadership bench strength, some company benches are
dangerously light. These companies, from large corporations to small and
mid-sized businesses, lack the talent needed to sustain or grow the business
beyond its current level.
Some companies have depended on the same leaders for years without developing
new leaders. Other companies have attempted to develop leaders, but there is no
strategic or integrated approach. Still other companies have unexpectedly lost
leaders they were counting on.
Each year, about 25 percent of managers in typical Fortune 500 companies change
jobs. Most spend an average of four years in a given position. High potential
leaders in mid-senior ranks move more frequently: every two to three years.
These statistics demonstrate why companies must build solid leadership. Leaders
must concentrate on developing their teams, getting the right people in the
right jobs and producing results.
Job dissatisfaction is up. Some research indicates that one out of six people
expects to quit a job in the next year. There are more opportunities for people
to seek “greener pastures.” Good leadership can influence a person’s decision to
remain with a company.
10 Ideas for Building Your Leadership Bench Strength
If your company wants to build leadership strength, here are my top ten
1. Transfer knowledge and experience from the top
Companies can capture the wisdom from experienced leaders to aid in educating
and developing future leaders.
2. Build relationships across generations
Leadership skills, talents and values differ across generations. Dealing with
these differences constructively strengthens the overall leadership of your
3. Strengthen leadership peer relationships
Often, large organizations operate like a conglomeration of silos. It’s easy for
leaders to feel isolated in their roles. Helping leaders learn from each other
and strengthening interpersonal relationships build needed peer support and
4. Develop succession plans
Companies shouldn’t wait until the need for a leader is obvious. Careful thought
and planning in advance eases the transition.
5. Identify and nurture high-potential leaders
Pay special attention to those employees possessing strong capabilities
operating below the radar. They can be the most likely to leave.
6. Provide needed cross departmental learning and exposure
With better knowledge of other departments and the organizational system as a
whole, leaders can help your departments function more effectively.
7. Offer executive coaching/real-time learning
Large companies are turning to fresh approaches to help executives learn, get
feedback and gain support based on experiential learning. Many executives like
the personalized approach.
8. Include more leaders in strategic planning
In my work with leaders in many corporations across a broad based range of
industries, I find one of their most common challenges is the need to think and
act more strategically. Busy executives struggle to find the time to think about
the issues they most want or care about. Their focus is diffused. Fostering
strategic thinking early in a leader’s career will serve him or her well in the
9. Provide mentoring or coaching support for new managers
Along with a new title and pay raise, new managers should benefit by having
stronger initial support through mentoring or coaching programs to help them get
acclimated in their new roles.
10. Assess leadership talent
There are a variety of assessments in the marketplace to help companies assess
leadership skills, behaviors and values. These tools give leaders insights to
help them increase their effectiveness.
A Bonus Leadership Idea -- Open Dialogue
One of the greatest benefits to any organization is the opportunity to invite
conversation about leadership across all levels. Start by asking questions like
• What does your company value most about its leadership?
• What improvement would you like to see?
• What is your company’s philosophy about leadership?
• What would outstanding leadership enable your company to do better?
• What leadership skills are critical for success?
• What is the impact of your company’s leadership on your employees? Your
organization? Your market? The community?
As you address these kinds of questions, make a commitment to raise the bar on
the level of leadership that exists in your organization. Build your bench
strength, but don’t let leaders sit too long. They’re anxious to lead.
Gayle Lantz is president of WorkMatters, Inc.
organizational development consulting firm that can help your company improve
performance through consulting, coaching and speaking services. For more free
tips on how to improve your leadership bench strength & improve your
organization’s performance, Sign up for WorkMatters Tips at