July 4

Build Your Leadership Bench – 5 Strategies to Find Top Leadership Talent

The Great Resignation may be turning into The Great Stay, but it still feels like a heavy lift to find top leadership talent – the people you need to build your leadership bench. The latest research reveals that while employees may be slowing down on their desire to voluntarily leave their jobs, it still shows employers struggling to find the talent and leaders they need.

You would be hard pressed to enter any boardroom or walk into any main street store where the leaders and owners are not talking about talent – where to find it, how to hire it, and most importantly how to retain it.

So why is it so difficult in today’s marketplace to find top leadership talent you need? Now, we can argue things have never bounced back since COVID, or that there are too many other opportunities for young people today with UBER, INFLUENCERs and the whole GIG economy, or revert to the age old argument that our parents used – young people just don’t want to work. 

While there may be some sliver of truth to a few of those arguments, the truth is you cannot build your leadership bench because you are not looking in the right place.

Where To Find Top Leadership Talent

For many of you, the talent you need to build your leadership bench is already working for you. That’s right. You spend so much time looking for talent outside the walls of your organization, that you have missed the talent right underneath your nose.

According to a recent report by iHire, 49.5%, of employers in the U.S. intend to fill vacancies by promoting current employees or hiring from within their organization. These individuals are already familiar with the company's culture, mission, and objectives, and have established trust with their colleagues, making them ideal candidates for leadership roles.

So, there is a good chance that right now you have at least one team member working for you, probably more than one person, with the commitment, the passion and the talent to be one of your future leaders, your best future leaders. And all you have to do is find them.

The Benefits of Promoting From Within

When looking to build your leadership bench, promoting from within is not just a strategy to fill vacancies; it's a powerful tool for fostering a positive workplace culture and driving business growth. Here are some key benefits of this approach:

  • Reduced Risk and Learning Curve: Internal candidates are known entities. You're already aware of their work ethic, skills, and how well they fit into your company culture. This familiarity significantly reduces the risk and uncertainty that can come with hiring an external candidate.

    Additionally, internal candidates already understand your company's operations, reducing the time it takes for them to adapt to their new roles. This efficiency is particularly beneficial when you need to fill a role quickly due to unexpected vacancies.
  • Established Trust: Internal candidates have already established relationships within your organization. They understand your business' mission, objectives, and culture, and have demonstrated their commitment to these values. This established trust can lead to smoother transitions and more effective leadership.
  • Cost Efficiency: Promoting from within can lead to significant cost savings. The expenses associated with external hiring, such as advertising, accessing resume databases, and conducting background checks, are eliminated. Additionally, internal candidates require less training and onboarding, further reducing costs.

    Moreover, when you promote from within, you're investing in your employees, and they, in turn, invest in your company. This cyclical investment promotes loyalty, reduces turnover, and leads to a more dedicated and productive workforce.
  • Boosted Morale: Seeing colleagues advance within the organization can significantly boost employee morale. It sends a clear message that hard work and dedication are recognized and rewarded, fostering a culture of motivation and engagement.

By recognizing and nurturing the potential within your organization, you can build a strong leadership bench that drives your business forward. This approach not only addresses your immediate talent needs but also contributes to long-term business success by fostering a culture of growth and opportunity.

5 Strategies To Build Your Leadership Bench 

So what are you waiting for? Take a long hard look at the team you have and start to spot your diamonds in the rough.

Identifying the Right Decision-Maker

To build your leadership bench, begin with understanding who you are looking for. Before you can find the talent and future leaders you need, you must start by gaining clarity about who is the right leader for your team. The ideal leader might already be in your organization, demonstrating loyalty and fitting well into the company culture.

Gather your current leaders together, and spend a few hours building your avatar, your ideal leader. Who are they? What talents do they have? How would you describe them? What characteristics do they possess? Be as specific as you can, until you have a clearly designed avatar. 

Develop Criteria For Advancement

Next, turn those characteristics, qualities, talents into your criteria for advancement. This means generating a clear list of what it takes to be successful in your organization.

Then, give this criteria to everyone, every single member of your team. Provide this for those working on the frontline, to those that hold leadership positions, and encourage them to use these as their guide for how to advance in your organization.

Finding talent is so much easier when everyone is working on becoming better leaders, and everyone can clearly identify the best and right leaders for your company. 

Take Inventory

Gather your leadership team together and take inventory. Inventory of who you have in your company, what skills they have, what skills they need, and identify who has potential. Remember, transitioning an in-house employee to a new role, especially a leadership role, takes much less time and resources than onboarding an external hire.

By taking inventory, you will know who on your team has the ability to be one of your future leaders, and who you need to invest in. Understand, before you begin the process of investing in looking inward for leadership, you will most likely have raw talent. Individuals with high potential, but ones who will have a few gaps in the leadership skill department. 

Challenge Your Leaders

Then, challenge your leaders to find at least two high potentials in their division. Two individuals they feel have the potential and desire to become future leaders on your team.

Make it their responsibility to identify, invest in, gain commitment, and take ownership of developing leadership in your company. 

Take Action

And last but not least, take action. Talk to every employee in your company, let them know how focused you are on leadership, that every member has the opportunity if they excel at the criteria for advancement. 

Meet and invest in those employees you have early identified, and give them skills, training, and mentors.

Yes, finding top leadership talent remains a challenge, and building your leadership bench will take your time, focus, and attention. But the chances are, the talent you need is already on your team. 

Follow these steps, and promoting from within, you not only find your future leaders but also build a team that turns uncertainty into a competitive advantage.


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