HR’s Role in Developing Leadership Skills

HR Teams: Leadership Cornerstone

While HR departments have traditionally handled administrative tasks surrounding leadership development, their true role extends far beyond paperwork. Developing a stronger leadership pipeline involves strategic effort of which HR is the driving force. Ideally, their work extends beyond scheduling training sessions to include identifying individuals with leadership potential, nurturing them with personalized development plans, and shaping these promising individuals with diverse initiatives like mentorship programs, cross-functional exposure, and targeted challenges.

By implementing a deliberate, ongoing process for leadership development, HR teams ensure their organization has a strong leadership pipeline for future vacancies.

Identify Leadership Potential 

To identify and cultivate emerging leaders, HR can utilize a host of assessment tools, performance evaluations and talent development programs. Ultimately, the ability to lead requires more than subject matter expertise. HR leaders must evaluate an employee’s communication style, problem-solving acumen, and strategic thinking to uncover hidden leadership potential. Performance reviews provide an excellent opportunity to spot individuals praised for their ability to motivate, build consensus, and navigate complex situations. 

Conversely, these reviews can also reveal areas for improvement, prompting HR to tailor personalized development programs. These might include targeted training courses, cross-functional rotations that broaden perspective, and carefully curated mentorship pairings with seasoned leaders. By blending assessment findings with performance insights, HR can proactively build a diverse pipeline of emerging, effective leaders, each nurtured with the skills and experiences they need to navigate the organization’s future with grace.

woman smiling next to her collages during a stay interview.

Leadership Training and Development Programs

Designing, implementing, and managing impactful training programs is at the core of this process. It can include workshops that cater to big-picture, strategic thinking, as well as micro-learning online courses that hone specific skills like delegation or effective feedback. Lunch-and-learns can become forums for honing critical techniques like active listening, strong team morale and collaborative problem-solving.

In addition, carefully curated mentorships offer priceless hands-on learning while sharing valuable institutional knowledge. Using the organization’s current and anticipated needs as a guide, HR is uniquely positioned to utilize a blend of these approaches to craft personalized professional development journeys for employees who demonstrate leadership promise.

Succession Planning

All of these leadership development efforts can ultimately lead to healthy succession planning, a focused process of preparation for the future that ensures a seamless transition of power when key positions fall vacant. The practice involves carefully anticipating future needs and meticulously positioning potential successors, starting by mapping crucial internal roles and their required skills.

The next step is to identify high-potential emerging leaders, matching them with positions that support their career goals, and crafting individualized professional development plans that bridge any existing skill gaps. By proactively taking charge, HR can prepare these individuals to step seamlessly into critical roles, boost retention, minimize disruptions and ensure their organization retains its core values while navigating the future with seasoned guidance.

Encourage a Culture of Leadership 

Fostering a culture of leadership demands more than just promoting individuals to corner offices. It requires shifting the paradigm from leadership as a title to a dynamic mindset and collective responsibility. Action plans become the driving force, outlining concrete steps that empower every employee to embrace effective management behaviors like initiative, problem-solving, sharing of ideas and collaborative decision-making. 

Implementing peer recognition programs celebrates these desired behaviors, ensuring leadership is a shared journey. This might take shape in cross-functional projects where diverse perspectives are welcomed and valued, or in open-door policies that encourage everyone to voice ideas and concerns. By demonstrating a genuine commitment to employee well-being – through flexible work arrangements, robust learning opportunities, and a dedication to work-life balance – HR can build an environment where leadership thrives not out of obligation, but out of a shared passion for the organization’s success and the growth of its people.

happy co-workers sharing information on workforce engagement platforms

Leadership Action Plans

To continuously hone their leadership development process, self-evaluations, performance reviews, and manager feedback surveys are critical. Self-evaluations reveal an individual’s self-awareness and growth aspirations, while performance reviews provide first-hand observations of emerging leaders’ on-the-job behaviors. Manager surveys help to highlight potential blind spots while gauging the overall impact of training programs. By triangulating these approaches, HR can create a powerful feedback loop to refine leadership development plans and boost manager effectiveness, ensuring that their next generation of emerging leaders receives the precise support and coaching they need to lead and succeed.

Our Manager 360 survey solution makes it easy to get started. 

More about People Element 

In order to truly understand and inspire your employees, you must listen and engage them at every step of their journey with your organization. Regardless of where your people are at in the employee journey, People Element’s employee survey platform can help you connect. They make it easy to ask, listen and act on what matters most, resulting in a healthier, more successful workplace. Learn more and request a free demo today.

Subscribe for industry tips

Ready to build a better workplace?