The Six Acceleration Imperatives
“Leaders Ready Now” is a new book from Development Dimensions International (DDI), a renowned leader in Leadership Development, Succession Planning, and Organizational Execution. This guest post from the authors is an excerpt from the introduction to “Leaders Ready Now”.
The Six Acceleration Imperatives
Your organization may have some good processes in place to support learning, and because they likely took considerable effort to implement, they may be precisely what is preventing you from achieving the growth you need. To truly transform the speed and efficiency of your acceleration efforts, good won’t always be good enough. You may have to question the efficacy of processes that were difficult to install. But relax, you don’t have to be great at everything, and you don’t have to dismantle and rebuild your systems all at once (in fact, you shouldn’t try). Leaders Ready Now contrasts good practices to great ones and outlines those that have helped organizations radically improve the results of their acceleration efforts. In each case they didn’t try to do everything perfectly. They made choices about how to channel their efforts and focused on the specific aspects of their acceleration systems that were most essential in their context. We call these Acceleration Imperatives, and while you don’t have to excel in each, you’ll need to be aware enough about them to avoid system breakdowns. The Acceleration Imperatives are: commit, aim, identify, assess, grow, and sustain.
We’ve seen senior management teams not only sanction and participate in leadership-acceleration efforts, but also take ownership of them and become intensely competitive about achieving real results that strengthen the business. Leadership acceleration is a central business priority, and it’s managed that way.
- Good-When you have management’s support and involvement
- Great-When management competes to make acceleration happen
Some organizations are satisfied to simply have a competency model in place. Others turn their model into an indispensable tool that management and individual leaders use routinely to point their efforts to where the business is going, how the context is changing, and what they must do to be ready for it.
- Good-When you have a competency model in use organization-wide
- Great- When your leadership model is an indispensable business resource
For some organizations the annual talent review isn’t annual at all, nor is it simply a review. Great talent reviews are talent investment dialogs that happen routinely as part of business discussions. Informed by excellent data, they accurately isolate the most critical talent gaps, identify the individuals who have what it takes to grow as leaders, and secure resources to make it happen quickly so the leaders can be deployed where they are most needed.
- Good- When management participates in the annual talent review
- Great- When executives become shrewd and accurate in identifying potential
Most executives won’t make big bets on the development of their people without a way to mitigate the risk. Nor should they. Organizations that make great use of assessment leverage methods that enable their executives to see how big bets (e.g., placing a young leader into a major leadership role) will play out and precisely how they can craft accelerated development plans that will make them pay off.
- Good- When you use assessment for key roles and high-risk scenarios
- Great- When management is addicted to objective talent data
Helping emerging leaders learn new things isn’t enough when trying to quickly convert them from not ready to ready now. New learning must be applied. Practice and experimentation need to become routine. The great ones don’t just enable learning, they ignite the application of leadership approaches that are essential to business success.
- Good- When you have a wide array of learning options available for leaders
- Great- When you ignite application and practice of the leadership approaches your business needs
Whatever form your acceleration efforts take, they should be built to outlast you and everyone else in the organization. A few organizations have figured out that this happens only when there is tension—positive tension—that builds passion, a common purpose, and devotion to ensuring that growth happens.
- Good- When you hold leaders accountable to fulfill their assigned roles
- Great- When you aggressively manufacture positive growth tension
Remember, you need not be great in every area to achieve significant gains. Many of our most successful client partners have carefully chosen one or two Acceleration Imperatives and focused on being great in those areas (without completely neglecting the others). With respect to those Imperatives, they don’t let “good” get in the way of “great.”
Matthew J. Paese, Ph.D., is Vice President of Succession and C-Suite Services for Development Dimensions International (DDI). Matt’s work has centered on the application of succession, assessment, and development approaches as they apply to boards, CEOs, senior management teams, and leaders across the pipeline. He consults, coaches, speaks, and conducts research around all those topics and more.
Audrey B. Smith, Ph.D., is Senior Vice President for Global Talent Diagnostics at DDI. Audrey’s customer-driven innovation and global consulting insights have helped shape DDI’s succession, selection, and development offerings, from the C-suite to the front line. She has been a key strategist and solution architect, encompassing technology-enabled virtual assessments and development aligned to current business challenges.
William C. Byham, Ph.D., is Executive Chairman of DDI. He cofounded the company in 1970 and has worked with hundreds of the world’s largest organizations on executive assessment, executive development, and succession management. Bill authored Zapp!® The Lightning of Empowerment, a groundbreaking book that has sold more than 3 million copies. He has coauthored 23 other books, including seminal works on the assessment center method.