With the rapid speed of change facing organisations today, the need for effective leaders is seen as critical to the very survival of any organisation. Organisations differentiate themselves from their competition through their leadership and human capital, often referred to as organisational talent. Competing organisations may have similar products, services, offerings or even technology – but the harnessing of their talent behind the strategic direction of the organisation is one of the main differentiators of success.
According to Morel-Curran (2008) demographic changes, education shortages and global labour movement are some of the challenges organisations are currently facing when trying to retain top talent. This struggle between the need for talent and the shortage thereof is creating a burning need to develop and retain talent, and more specifically, the retention and development of successful leaders.
Research conducted by Delaney and Huselid (1996) indicate that strategic and integrated talent management practices such as leadership development, are linked to increased stakeholder value. According their research, any of the functions in talent management such as leadership development or selection, require a common language to describe behaviour in the world of work. This “language” is generally referred to as competencies.
Competencies help organisations to define and describe people behaviour, in terms that explain what leaders need to do to be successful. According to Intagliata et al. (2000) a competency, might for example, be visionary thinking and if one understands the competency or required behaviour, one can accurately link the language to a development intervention. The language together with competencies assist organisations to understand and describe the business strategy. Business strategy is extremely important when developing leaders, as Appelbaum and Paese (2003) explain, the vision and direction of the company needs to be fundamental to the development of leaders.
A healthy leadership pipeline is absolutely critical for the continued success of organisations in the modern era of the world of work. They provide organisations with the resources and brainpower, vision and strategy to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. The question therefore becomes, where do we get the right leaders, and how do we ensure that the leadership drives and supports the strategic vision of the organisation? Well-designed behavioural leadership competency models that describe what success should look like, is the answer. These competencies should then be used as the basis for the creation of an integrated leadership career cycle.