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7 Steps to Developing Leadership Talent

7 Steps to Building Leadership Talent


The Level Seven ‘7 Steps to Leadership’ is designed to help your organisation create a working strategy that will help you develop and retain your talented leaders whilst driving your business forward in the process. Each week we provide insight and practical tips for effective development of your leadership talent based on our many years of working with organisations.

Step 1:  Business Goals & Your Talent Pool

The first step to developing leaders is to clarify your business goals.

The Business Plan

What is the business plan? What are your goals and objectives?

Think about how the business plan is communicated through the organisation and how it is embedded in practice.

Your Talent

How do you define talent and identify your Talent Pool?

People need to understand what you mean by ‘talent’ as an organisation. They need to know if they are in the talent pool. Mutual expectations must be set and delivered upon.


What challenges does your organisation face in developing leaders?

Resources, availability of development expertise, existing behaviours and culture can constrain development strategies. It is important to approach leadership development with an open mind and draw upon a portfolio of strategies.

Defining your goals as an organisation, identifying the purpose of your talent pool and being aware of possible barriers to success are the first steps to building a robust, clear leadership development strategy that supports achievement of business goals.


Step 2: Personal Development

Having indentified your business goals and objectives and the purpose of your talent pool, how do you ensure that your people are equipped to deliver?


Does your company have leadership competency guidelines in place? How are they currently communicated, are they actually fit for purpose and do they feed into PDPs?

If not how can these be devised and implemented?

Key Stakeholders

Involve key stakeholders in objective setting – who are they? Do they need training?

Employee involvement in objective setting provides greater potential for buy in and motivation.


Produce Personal Development plans; focus on personal and organisational needs and the importance of quantifying and measurability. Keep this as a live document which you can continuously review and refine.



Step 3: Supporting Personal & Business Objectives

The first two steps are all about establishing goals and objectives for your organisation and your talented people. It is important that these are then supported to ensure sustainability and progression. Support needs to be bases on 3 key principles:

3 key principles:

  • Adults learn more effectively by doing
  • The more senior you become in an organisation the more self directed learning becomes
  • Early exposure to project work enables leaders to develop an appropriate knowledge base of the complexities involved in project based work and supports increasing use of multi skilled project teams.

Working with the company’s strategic direction and objectives, identify meaningful projects that your talent can work on as a vehicle for both personal learning and business development. This will ensure that your talented people are gaining hands on experience whilst benefiting the business.

Ensure that you define key deliverables and measurable success criteria to establish clarity of focus and the basis for ongoing performance review for individuals and the organisations.



Step 4: Create cross organisational project teams from your talent pool

Experience shows that early exposure to project work is valued by aspiring leaders. Involving aspiring leaders in high profile strategic organisational projects brings multiple benefits: it enables individuals to contribute and practice their skills and experience whilst learning about the business and developing new skills. Collaborative team working breaks down organisational silos and improves outcomes. Successful collaborative team working across organisations can be achieved by drawing people from different areas of the business using internal assessment metrics and profiling tools such as MBTI and the Belbin team roles inventory.

Creating the project team mix should take account of the need for:

  • Specific skill mix
  • Relevant experience required vs stretching into new areas
  • Scope for new skills development

Make sure you provide clear terms of reference and clarity of the roles of participants and key stakeholders in the process



Step 5: Mentoring

Mentoring is a valuable component of any leadership development programme. Mentors can impart valuable knowledge and guidance that aspiring leaders may not otherwise have access to in their normal working life. Mentors can provide support for the learning process as well as providing an opportunity to ask questions and review progress.

When choosing mentors think about the qualities and criteria these people will need and what training may be required for them to successfully fulfil the role.

Try to match mentors to  individuals using criteria such as: does the mentor have experience and knowledge relevant to your talented person, how accessible are they, are they likely to have empathy with aspiring leaders and be supportive of the investment in talent development? It is also important that the mentor and mentee have the potential to establish a good rapport and trust so personality matching is also important.

Mentoring brings many advantages, but it is vital that you keep the process well structured, putting in place ground rules and boundaries and a formal mentoring agreement can be helpful in structuring and managing expectations.



Step 6: Providing know how to support talent development

In order to ensure personal and business goals and objectives are met it is crucial to support the preceding stages by imparting relevant knowledge of concepts and good practice.

Provide your talent pool with an insight into leading edge thinking and encourage them to challenge ways of doing, with new ideas and research findings.

Use this opportunity to test out new and different approaches to problem solving, looking to expert practitioner and practically focused academic thinking for insight.

Supporting your leaders in testing out new ways of thinking brings potentially huge benefits but, as with every step, you need to ensure that there is a well structured framework in place in which it is safe for people to practice new approaches and ideas.

There are many ways of delivering this stage through traditional training sessions, practical workshops, access to online learning resources, studying for formal qualifications. Our experience shows that adults learn best by doing and that an action learning based approach that uses collaborative project working as per stage 4, reinforced by short leading edge masterclass sessions can deliver personal and organisational development goals.



Step 7: Reviewing project outputs and personal learning

Reviewing project outputs and personal learning are important at every stage of the leadership development process; it is crucial that learners reflect on and review their development and achievements

Here are some tips on creating a sustainable learning loop:

  • Identify appropriate review points
  • Review learning gained on an ongoing basis
  • Ensure feedback is given at every stage incorporating learning from each stage into the next
  • Train those reviewing the development

Never assume that your learners are on top of their own personal development. A structured calendar of review points involving different designated stakeholders is important in setting expectations from the outside and ensures that progress in relation to goals is reviewed


This series is a basic framework to put in place when developing your talent into leadership roles, Level 7’s consultants have vast experience in putting these frameworks and strategies in place helping organisations across Engineering, IT, Leisure and public sector organisations.

For further information or consultation contact us at info@level7live.com.