How to develop the new pipeline of leaders

A McKinsey study done in 2014 revealed that only 7% of senior managers felt that their company did an adequate job of developing global leaders.

One key finding exposed the importance of context in leadership development. Successful training depends on the relevance and applicability of the information to the trainees’ own organization, which emphasizes the value of internal mentoring and coaching.

For episode 21 of The World Class Leaders Show, I invited Tom Morin. Tom is the author of the successful book “Your Best Work: Create the Working Life That’s Right for You.”

Tom is an experienced and accomplished organizational leader and an inspiring speaker who is redefining meaningful work and leadership development. He is a co-founder of Work Innovation Partners and the creator of Tom is completing his doctorate degree at Royal Roads University and is also a recipient of the Royal Roads University Founders’ Award. 

Five Keys to Developing Future Leaders

The most important job of a leader is to develop future leaders. One of the most successful aspects of leadership training provided in the military is that it is developed, delivered, and modeled by other military leaders who have been in similar situations. So, how can an organization design a training program that emulates this approach to build a pipeline of future leaders?
  1. An organization needs to fully understand and embrace the position that leadership development is the job of every single manager in the company, not only the most senior managers. Organizations must hold their leaders accountable for their actions and performance in this area, and work to embed the objective into organizational culture.
  2. Managers must commit to spending time every single day on coaching and leadership development. This time can be as little as ten minutes each day but must be done without fail.
  3. Managers need to be taught the necessary skills; they need to learn to really listen, to be a better coach, and to be better at guiding their employees in the appropriate behavior in high-risk situations.
  4. Managers must be provided with time and space for development — both for themselves and for working with others.
  5. There should be incentives linked to performance. This could be a measurement of improvements in the productivity and performance of their entire team. However, companies should guard against establishing incentives that lead their managers to focus on ‘gaining points’ versus real performance improvements.

Leadership is a Reflection of Values

Leadership is a reflection of our values and our character; how we want to be in the world, and how we want people to see us. Leadership is also about the skills and techniques that we have to execute in the moment. In certain situations, leaders need to be able to tell people exactly what to do, to mentor and coach them, to give them the skills that they need. So, leadership is what happens in the moment. If we can get people in touch with their values and be the best leader they can be, then there are hard skills that can be developed.

The Role of External Consultants

While it’s clear that leveraging internal knowledge and capabilities delivers the most effective leadership development training, there is a valuable role to be played by external consulting resources. External consulting experts can bring new insights to an organization and can assist the company in creating and building its training systems. Measuring the quality of the development programs can be challenging, but there are ways to establish meaningful KPIs on internal leadership development. There’s close to $ 20 billion spent annually in North America on leadership development. An external consultant can help to develop a leadership program, can teach skills, and can provide coaching support. However, for concrete and sustainable outcomes to the program, an organization must hold itself and its own people accountable.

COVID-19, Curiosity, Creativity and Critical Thinking

The rapid transition to remote work that was catalyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic requires modification in management style: an individual who may have been extremely successful at motivating and communicating with their team in the workplace may fail to deliver similar performance when managing a fully remote workforce. Flexibility is one of the primary competencies a leader must have, or the ability to adapt to change. These are the leaders who you will be able to count on three or five years from now. So, it’s essential that organizational leaders develop a vision to build their leadership pipeline by identifying those resources that are successfully evolving and reacting to the current challenges. Strong leaders exhibit valuable characteristics such as curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking. In closing, I asked Tom for his answers to my standard guest questions. What is the number one thing you’ve learned in your career? Hard work still matters. We live in an age where everyone wants things immediately. What I say is, do the work, and it WILL pay off. What is one thing in your career that you might have done differently? I don’t mind learning from the past, but I’m very careful not to regret the past because I’m a construction of the things I’ve been through. However, I would say that there was a period in my life where I felt I was done with learning, and that’s never true. Now, I try to learn something new each week, and I highly recommend to everyone that they pursue that also. When you had the best performance of your career, what were the conditions in place to allow it at that time? I think that I’ve been most successful when I’ve been trying to contribute to someone’s well-being. As leaders, we have opportunities to do that every day. So, I look at every situation as an opportunity to make a meaningful difference to someone else. For me, having someone recall just five minutes where I was able to help them make changes in their life — that’s a success. What do you think is the most impactful book you’ve read? “The Art of Possibility”, by Benjamin and Rosamund Stone Zander. I’ve read that book at least four times now, and I keep going back to the 11 axioms and ideas they write about. If you’d like to reach out to Tom Morin, you can go to his website at For Tom’s book, go to:  Listen to the podcast linked to this article:  
Subscribe to the Newsletter


Insider strategies in your inbox every Thursday