The shortage of future leadership talent in the energy sector is even more acute when it comes to global leadership.
In addressing this, companies need to consider a combination of 1) developing the potential leaders it has, 2) acquiring and assimilating talent from other industries and regions, and 3) becoming more attractive to millennials.
Core-Level Improvements in Leadership Skills
While training and strategically chosen assignments are essential tools in any leadership development effort, the competency gaps limiting the performance of current and potential global leaders tend to be unique to individuals—and are often deeply ingrained in their approach to work, the way they interact with subordinates, and how they partner with others inside and outside of the organization.
As a result, improvements in these areas are hard to produce through group training exercises or mentors who focus primarily on short-term issues.
If individuals are motivated to learn and grow, however, they can make substantial strides by working with a coach who focuses on fundamental competencies and longer-term, big-picture issues.
For example, I’ve been called in as a coach by energy companies to
- Help selected global leaders better navigate inter-cultural and cross-cultural challenges.
- Bring current and potential leaders to an understanding of their own strengths and limitations, particularly in terms of working with superiors, peers, and direct reports, and help them find effective ways to acquire necessary skills.
- Enable leaders brought in from other industries or regions to thrive in a new corporate culture by taking advantage of the capabilities they already possess and developing new approaches where needed.
- Help executives see the merits of a new approach, assignment, or initiative—or more closely align their efforts with the company’s strategic priorities and objectives.
What Makes Coaching Effective
Obviously everything the coach brings to the table has to be grounded in fundamentally sound principles of leadership. But exactly how these principles will be incorporated by different individuals depends on their existing competencies and traits, the areas where they need to grow, their work environment, and the company’s current and long-term objectives.
The coach begins by observing how executives are currently approaching their work and then, instead of simply laying out what new areas and inter-relational patterns they need to focus on, helps them see how they are functioning and come up with their own answers for dealing with key competency gaps.
This individual approach to development is also more effective because the four commonly recognized core competencies for global leaders—self-awareness, emotional intelligence, tolerance of ambiguity, and resilience—are not easily teachable skills. If the individual hasn’t come to an authentic recognition of their limitations in these areas, there is no solid platform to build on.
Similarly, helping executives arrive at their own solutions is more likely to lead to lasting improvements in performance, with enormous payback for the organization. Results may include not only, say, a more productive division but workers who are reaching higher levels of performance and a more attractive work environment that makes it easier to recruit millennials.