Every aspect of an organization contributes to its success. Even so, there’s no doubt that upper management tends to influence the success or failure of their companies more than most, which is why it’s essential to invest in your executive team.
A leader’s character, decision-making abilities, confidence, empathy, and other intangibles can make or break a brand. This makes ongoing leadership development an important investment for any organization.
Here are five ways you can invest in your executive team. They can lead to stronger leaders, more functional teams, lower turnover costs, and, at the end of the day, a healthier bottom line.
1. Identify ideal core competencies in executives
If you want your executives to thrive (and your entire organization to do so, too), you need to start at the beginning. Before you consider ways to improve existing executive performance or even how you can hire better leaders in the future, sit down and consider your ideal executive.
Many business leaders are familiar with the concept of a buyer persona. This outlines the attributes, interests, mindsets, and other key characteristics of an ideal customer. If you want to build and invest in an empowered executive team that can fuel your brand’s success, apply this same set of filters to your C-suite recruitment. Build an executive persona for your brand.
Of course, building out an “ideal leader” for your company won’t look the same as the perfect customer. Rather than focusing on demographics and consumer pain points, build your preferred executive around core competencies.
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) provides an excellent example of this concept in action. On their website, they list five “executive core qualifications” that include:
- Leading change
- Leading people
- Results driven
- Business acumen
- Building coalitions
OPM defines each competency and then elaborates on sub-qualifications. For instance, building coalitions is connected to key capabilities, such as partnering, having political savvy, and the ability to influence and negotiate.
While many of these competencies apply to any executive, OPM has been careful to consider these qualifications in the context of its specific leadership needs. In fact, in the intro to the list, the agency specifically states, “The executive core qualifications define the competencies needed to build a federal corporate culture that drives for results, serves customers, and builds successful teams and coalitions within and outside the organization.”
Consider the core competencies that are essential to a typical leader within your organization. Then codify them and use them as a North Star as you invest in your existing and future executives on the team.
2. Assess your executive candidates
Once you have your core competencies identified and defined (see the previous section), you can use these to guide your executive search. Executive job requirements are unique in the sense that they don’t necessarily conform to a traditional job description. There may be certain obvious prerequisites, such as a CTO having experience building and managing software tools or a CFO having the necessary financial certifications and training.
As a leader, though, you want to look past training, education, and even experience. In fact, as the world rapidly evolves due to seismic shifts, like generative AI, the ability to lean on education and experience is rapidly shrinking.
As those classic qualification factors become harder to find, HR and hiring teams must lean on core competencies and key characteristics to help them find leaders that will fit well with their brand, culture, and leadership needs.
Working with an executive recruiter can help with this process. While it isn’t a new concept, executive recruitment is more valuable than simply a way to reduce the time and effort required to find a good candidate.
Entrepreneur adds that working with a good recruiter also puts you in contact with an individual who already has a network of “potential candidates for your available position.” This can do more than streamline the hiring process. It can also improve how well each candidate fits each position. This reduces the likelihood of turnover (which saves on rehiring costs) and improves satisfaction (leading to better performance).
Use the support and guidance of things like core competencies and third-party recruiters to help you hire the best leaders every time. This sets the stage for effective ongoing leadership investment — which we’ll get to next.
3. Coach your executives
Executives may be at the top of an organization, but that doesn’t mean they’re fully developed leaders. On the contrary, it’s a trademark feature of humanity that we never stop growing. When it comes to finding ways to invest in your executive team, it’s important to remember that this ongoing growth refers to more than just skills and experience. At its core, it’s a character issue.
The executive development team at Velocity Coaching understands the importance of coaching for heart as well as skill. The group, which has helped train leaders for high-profile companies like Apple, Google, MasterClass, and DoorDash, emphasizes the need to start organizational transformation not just at the top but within each leader.
“Outward success is an inside job,” they state on their website. “Building trust and having tough conversations are essential tools for team performance.”
In the effort to coach and mentor leaders, it’s important to make this concept a priority. Finding good C-suite candidates is nuanced, as leaders must be proactive and creative on a regular basis. This outside-the-box approach to performing one’s work responsibilities makes it difficult to simply give a leader certain tools or training and call it a day.
Executives must be individually empowered to act ethically, responsibly, and creatively. They must learn to lead with a blend of empathy and precision. Finding the balance between human leadership and hard-nosed results isn’t natural for most people — even leaders. It requires guidance from experienced people.
Your unique organizational needs will dictate whether this guidance comes from a focused, goal-oriented coach or an ongoing mentor providing sage advice when needed. Either way, though, you want to take the time to invest in this inside-out training as a form of inward growth and leadership transformation.
4. Teach your executives
Once you’ve addressed internal growth, it’s time to consider outward development factors. The need for ongoing professional development isn’t reserved for those climbing the corporate ladder. It’s also a powerful tool for those already at the top.
One of the best ways to empower your leaders to grow on an ongoing basis is to offer a learning stipend. This is a specific fund designed to cover conferences, courses, and other educational resources, most of which take place outside of the workplace.
Continu explains that learning stipends are a key factor for fostering continuous learning in the workplace. It prevents over-specialization and allows employees to adapt to shifting needs within their positions.
Along with increasing job satisfaction, the learning platform says, “Personal learning encourages self-determination, self-esteem, a sense of efficacy, and a desire for further learning.”
Again, this is common knowledge for employees. Employers and their executive teams, though? They are often skipped over as viable candidates. If you want to invest in your executive team, encourage executives to take advantage of learning stipends, too.
This can pave the way for trickle-down continual learning. It can help leaders maximize their own productivity. It can enable them to lead the way in understanding the use of cutting-edge company tools and then demonstrate that knowledge to their teams. Ongoing learning empowers executives to feel confident as they consider future changes and how to make the most of each opportunity, too.
5. Connect your executives
At this point, we’ve considered the basic core competencies you want in your executives and how you can use them to hire the best candidates for your executive team. Once you’ve brought together the right people, you can utilize coaching and mentorships to develop inward character and leadership traits. Encouraging leaders to take advantage of continuous learning initiatives also gives them tangible, practical capabilities that can help them lead with confidence and creativity.
The last step when investing in your executive team is to connect them to their teams and to each other. This is essential if you want your executive development to trickle down to your bottom line.
On the topic of overhauling internal communications in the name of improving revenue, Harvard Business Review (HBR) adds that many executives were never taught how to communicate well. Even if they invest dozens of hours a month into communication with their team members, this is often done without thought to efficiency, effectiveness, and profitability.
HBR adds that “More than 80% of employees would rather work for an organization that values open communication than one that only offers perks like free meals and great health plans.” This is for a few obvious reasons.
For example, a company with executives who can communicate well tends to create more engaged employees. Teams are also more aligned with their company’s and leader’s shared vision. This leads to greater collaboration and more independent decision-making.
Overhauling your internal communications isn’t easy. But it’s worth the investment. Take the time to consider the communication expectations of your employees and leaders and how you can rectify any inconsistencies. Establish communication channels that are efficient and effective. Create feedback loops for ongoing improvement. You get the idea.
Effectively Investing in Your Executive Team
Leaders are typically the ones looking out for the development of their teams. Make sure that your company is looking out for them, too.
From thoughtful hiring to providing ongoing coaching and learning opportunities to keeping your executives connected and communicating, use the tips above to invest in your executive team. That way, you can boost your bottom line and improve your entire organization in the process.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Fauxels; Pexels; Thank you.
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