A case for mentorship in leadership development
Developing and sustaining a continuous pipeline of leaders is a challenge for most companies under normal circumstances but is now an even greater need to develop and deploy solutions in the energy transition environment. The urgent demand for innovative technology, repurposed infrastructure, large scale capital assets, leading to “immediate” results only extenuates the need for experienced and high-quality leaders. With both a historic worker shortage and investment pressure to reach sustainability goals, demand is outpacing leadership training pipelines.
Recently BCG and Microsoft published a report finding a significant skills gap in sustainability. Waiting for the education pipeline to produce the skilled labor needed will be too little too late. Additionally, the complexity of capital projects, decisions, and conflicting demands place tremendous stress on leaders and can create the risk of burnout and low performance.
With all these dynamics at play, the traditional method of project leadership development within siloed Human Resources (HR), career management, or Learning and Development (L&D) departments will not produce or develop the Capital Project Leaders that are needed. A model of mentorship and knowledge sharing that begins at the heart of the business plan and cascades throughout the organization is required to meet the moment at hand. Let’s focus on the Capital Project Leaders that are directly involved in developing and deploying capital projects.
As a framework here are 10 elements for a mentor and knowledge transfer-based leadership development program:
- LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IS PART OF THE BUSINESS STRATEGY
Training modules will not suffice. A whole mentorship program must be established, incentivized, and integrated into the core strategy of what you do, knowing that in the end, it will increase your profit margin and long-term success.
- THE LEADERSHIP VALUES OF THE ORGANIZATION ARE EMBODIED IN THE CULTURE.
Company culture is just as important as your operations and will often make or break your profit margins and can damage your brand. From the minimum wage earner to the CEO, all employees need to embody and not just recite company values.
- SPONSORSHIP IS FROM THE HIGHEST EXECUTIVE LEVEL.
As with any lasting organizational change, leadership begins at the top. The executive suite must model and consistently communicate the value of the mentor-apprentice relationship and why it is an integral part of the business plan.
- LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IS VISIBLE AT ALL LEVELS OF THE ORGANIZATION.
To truly see change, the mentorship model must cascade throughout the whole organization. Every department should implement this knowledge-sharing/mentoring leadership development strategy. This is not a quick fix, it is an investment in individuals that requires a commitment to see it through.
- FUNDING AND RESOURCE INVESTMENT ARE KEY.
Many organizations delegate leadership development to dispersed and siloed functions and then wonder why there is a lack of good leaders. When leadership development is a comprehensive corporate strategy with the proper investment of time, funding, resources, and talent, then there will be a sustained pipeline of quality, long-lasting leaders.