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I Wish I Knew: Are My People Ready For Leadership?

Updated: Apr 8, 2023

So many of my C-Suite clients ask me: Do I have talent who are ready and able to secure our future? How do I know who’s ready to become a leader? Beyond mere survival, you’ve got to ensure that your team is future-fit. How do you get there? One key piece is getting the most from the talent you already have, or what I like to think of as “getting the most juice for the squeeze.”

There’s a common misconception that it’s just plain too difficult to build a future-fit team from within, involving tons of time and training with no guarantee of success. But the risk of inaction is far greater than taking a positive step forward. And it’s easier than you might think. You really can start building your future now. Your future leaders? You’ve got to know where to look for them, how to identify them, and what they need to thrive.

Where to find your future leaders: the “Sweet Spot”

ClearPeg takes a strategic, targeted approach to this quest. We found the sweet spot where most organizations have a group of employees who, with just a bit of empathic intervention, can become valuable, highly effective leaders.

You know who your superstars are, and you wish you could clone them. The top ten percent or so at any organization are working at maximum capacity and productivity. If you push them any harder than they’re already pushing themselves, you might push them right out the door, because they know they’re already giving you 100% -- you’re already getting all the juice they’ve got to give.

But you won’t find your next leaders at the low end of the pool. Usually, you’re wasting your time; either they’re not ready or they’re not interested. Most entry-level employees are learning about your organization, and have their hands full getting up to speed with their current responsibilities. And for those who are strictly “9 to 5” work is just work -- it’s a paycheck and not much else.

We focus on precisely that range between the two extremes, mid-level professionals who are ready for more. Those who, in fact, are willing and able to transition from being individual contributors to real leaders. We’re looking to build “great” from “good”…

Identify your most promising candidates.

As the above chart illustrates, we’re most interested in people whose behavior, competence, knowledge and experience hint at their potential for enhanced performance. Typically, we’re mining the Associate or Manager levels. Then we need to consider future potential needs and functions to identify possible candidates for leadership positions from this group of employees. It’s that combination of skillsets and behaviors -- we’re looking for the folks who “do” and “manage” but who also possess leadership qualities like self-direction and the ability to think critically.

But how do you grow these potential future leaders? Do you just throw them into the deep end and see if they can swim? Hope for the best through on-the-job training and christening by fire? What happens when this approach backfires? When your promising new managers alienate their teams – or worse, the client – and they don’t have the tools to fix the problem? Now you have to get on a plane to calm the waters while you’ve got a million other problems jostling for your attention. Instead of leaving your company’s future to chance, there’s a more effective approach to developing leadership.

What do they need to lead? Invest and observe.

People will always be the source of creativity and innovation that build a better tomorrow. But thinking can be hard and potentially dangerous work. Where does someone go to think with impunity? Companies don’t invest in personal development like they did 10-20 years ago, or even five years ago. Employees are left to their own devices. Maybe they pick up what they can from the internet -- TED Talks or YouTube or such. If they’ve received any professional training, it’s been rather basic and superficial.

These people – your top candidates, your future leaders – need a safe place to develop their skills. A judgment-free space to have a conversation about the challenges they face. To support them, nudge them, toughen them up, soften the sharp elbow, or whatever it takes. We’ve found that this cohort can become five to ten times more productive within a very short time.

Everyone is unique in their development needs, so it makes sense that one-on-one coaching yields the most effective outcomes. It’s up to the coachee to opt in to the process. A lot depends on how the concept of coaching is introduced to them. Hopefully they’ll recognize that this isn’t punitive, but an opportunity like no other. A chance to identify problems, size them up, sort them out, and learn from all of it.

The right coach has credible, real-life experiences so they can meet people where they are in their journey. Within ClearPeg dialogs, we offer proven tools tailored to specific situations, facilitating critical thinking and growth. We draw on literally hundreds of models and frameworks we’ve developed over the years to offer precisely what our coachees need when they need it most.

One of our coachees recently commented that, “Thanks to ClearPeg, I could be 100% ‘off’ during my recent vacation. My team is stronger because of my increased maturity. All the conversations, provided materials and cumulative skills-stacking have made me a much more confident person and leader. I speak with our clients and teams with more credibility due to my concise and spot-on communications. Thank you -- I’m ready to lean into the future now… on my own!

These meetings pay exponential dividends in terms of personal development. There are observable changes and results with our coachees. Wow, I’ve really noticed a difference in that person. They’re communicating very differently now…they’re much more effective…

So let’s do this. Let’s identify your potential leaders, and give them the tools they need to succeed!

What other leaders and coaches are saying about ClearPeg…

I’ve watched the coachee grow beyond a strong individual contributor to a collaborative leader and strong resource for a crucial functional area. I can see that the area owner has a valuable and trusted right-hand person! – CEO

When Todd came on board our team was a bit skeptical at first, but he was able to bring new ideas and concepts to the team so they would be ready to bring their skills to the next level with the right kind of tools. The members of our Engineering team are all big Todd White fans now, as am I. – Vice President

Todd has thorough knowledge and sophisticated insight on how to help others develop, grow and manage their career. Through his coaching, I have found my way of developing myself – Business Development Lead

I am motivated on a different level. The information, structure, conversations and engagement has me thinking differently and I find myself motivated for more. – Finance Manager


ClearPeg was founded in 2021 around a vision of helping people maximize their potential through coaching. Learn more >

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