In anticipation of C-Suite retirements – and as part of their overall succession and talent strategy – a Canadian organization promoted a number of emerging leaders to the executive level. Their goals were twofold. First, they wanted to support these leaders in stepping into Enterprise Leadership roles. Second, they wanted to foster and strengthen their ability to drive organizational results as a collective group.
Early in the transition, a number of gaps were identified for the group. As a result, there was a strong desire to provide targeted support to each individual leader alongside development for the cohort as a whole.
The organization’s senior leaders reached out to Verity in search of a cohesive and data informed approach. They needed support with a number of activities:
- Clearly defining accountabilities at the executive level
- Enabling succession planning longer term
- Providing focused development through increased self-awareness and targeted development goals
During our initial conversations with the organization’s senior leaders, it became clear that there were varying degrees of C-suite alignment and involvement in the development process. In addition, much of the assessment of potential was anecdotal and based on the functional leaders’ perspective only.
- Building alignment at the C-Suite around what is expected of VP level leaders in the organization
- Engaging all C-Suite leaders in the development of their people
- Applying rigour in the assessment of potential to inform future succession planning
- Creating targeted development planning for each individual leader
- Providing development programming that would serve to bring the leaders together and create a community of learning
We started by meeting with the current C-suite leaders to understand their expectations for their direct reports, and the changing accountabilities for first-time executives in the organization. We then built a customized Vice President Success Profile. This defined the critical role requirements, leadership capabilities and de-railers for this level of leadership. To ensure the C-Suite leaders had a common benchmark for leadership effectiveness, we reviewed the Success Profile with them.
We used the Success Profile to guide a customized assessment process. Each leader completed online assessments and an in-depth interview process which resulted in an individualized assessment report.
The assessment report was used to drive targeted development conversations, first with the Verity team and then involving their people leader. The process was meant to feel highly personalized, providing support and development for both their current roles and their future aspirations.
Alongside the assessment process, individual coaching and development planning, each leader participated in a broader development program that included group coaching sessions. The focus was on exploring key leadership topics, developing an enterprise mindset, and strengthening cross-functional relationships amongst the cohort. The program culminated in a capstone project within the organization, encouraging new relationships and the application of new skillsets and mindsets.
Engaging in a process of this nature had many benefits for the organization:
The C-Suite are aligned on what success looks like at the VP level; they’re holding their leaders accountable to the same benchmarks. In other words, they’re now speaking the same language.
Individual leaders have greater insight into their own capabilities, blind spots and stress behaviours. They’re having deeper development conversations with their own leaders.
Strengths & Gaps
The organization has a better sense of their collective senior leadership strengths and critical gaps in relation to achieving their strategic plan.
Plan for the Future
The CEO, C-Suite and Board have a clearer sense of how leaders map to the VP level, their future potential, and specific gaps for development planning purposes.
They have greater clarity on which leaders will have capacity to continue their growth trajectory. They also understand which leaders are likely in the right role at the right level for the foreseeable future.