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Developing future leaders: From identification to succession

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A paper cut out of a person walking up wooden steps representing the development of tomorrow's leaders.

Unlocking and cultivating leadership potential

Discover the keys to effective leadership development with these essential components for talent identification and engagement.

Delve into the findings of SACS’s engagement and leader behaviours study, uncovering the core behaviours that contribute to a thriving workplace culture.

Gain practical strategies for assessing leadership potential and managing succession, ensuring a smooth transition of leadership within your organisation.

Explore the principles of transformational and facilitative leadership, learning how to inspire and empower your team to achieve greatness.

Discover how to cultivate a culture of leadership excellence and drive success in your organisation.

The path to excellence for tomorrow’s leaders

Watch the video to understand how to develop the leaders of the future, the key behaviours to encourage, how to ensure a smooth transition and the best leadership style to use.

Step 5 - Common traits of disability sector employees

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How to develop leaders of the future

Hi, Andrew from SACS, and this is video number six in our six video series about creating the disability sector leaders of the future.

We started this sequence asking the question of what is leadership?

We looked at the intrinsic characteristics of leaders.

We talked about how to recruit future leaders.

We talked about how to model the leaders of the future based on the high quality people that we have in leadership roles within our organisation already.

We then showed you some interesting data on the disability sector and how that relates to leadership potential within the sector.

And this one is about how to develop leaders.

So firstly, this diagram talks about the process of developing leaders of the future (refer to the video).

And of course there’s a talent identification process in this.

And so we identified for you how to recruit people who are likely to be LOFs as we call them, leaders of the future, rather than SPOHs, safe pair of hands.

And so fundamental inherent characteristics like cognitive ability, personality, integrity, and also a person’s value sets can be very important in talent identification.

And those things are required in the cradle, and some of them are required before the cradle, because they are largely genetic.

Then as people start to develop in terms of career and school and those kinds of things, they develop foundation abilities and attributes.

And so those are competencies that are necessary to be a leader, and that behaviours that work as a leader.

And then L&D support in an organisation and partially the experiences that they have growing up, contribute to enablers, which caused them to be better leaders, and derailers, which cause them to be less effective leaders.

And this is in the category of lifelong learning.

So this is a development model for leaders of the future.

Ten key leadership behaviours for success

This is a piece of research that we undertook in partnership with Deakin University in around about 2015, 2016 (refer to the video).

And we measured the levels of engagement of something like 2,700 people across Australia and New Zealand and in an extremely wide range of industry sectors.

And we also measured a whole bunch of leader behaviours.

There are ten listed here, and these leader behaviours are shown because they’re the ten leader behaviours which performed well from a statistical analysis point of view.

Now when we undertook this study, we surveyed many more behaviours than this, and in fact about 18 or 19 I think it was, but we found that the really important ones were these ten.

And these ten fit into two general categories.

You see that a number of these behaviours are about developing relationships and kind of creating a climate at work.

So helping people to learn, being supportive to them, fostering teamwork, empowering people, celebrating success, and acting in optimism and positivity as a leader.

So they’re all about creating the right circle, social environment.

But there’s another cluster of behaviours in amongst these ten, which are about accountability.

So you’ll see that we talk about creating clarity about performance standards and then effectively managing underperformance, creating clarity about appropriate behaviours and effective management of behaviours when people are behaving in a way that’s not positive in respect of the workplace.

So there’s a kind of a psychosocial environment aspect to this, empowering people, treating them with respect, helping them, causing them to learn those kinds of things.

And then there’s an accountability component.

Now we know that to be a good leader, you have to be able to do all of these things.

You have to be somebody who can create accountability.

That’s kind of the governance aspect of being a good leader.

And of course you need to create wellbeing, which is all about developing effective relationships with staff and shaping their work experience, their interaction with their colleagues, and how they interact with their job to make it a positive, fulfilling activity, which will cause them to be more productive and more engaged.

The four most important behaviours

So the key behaviours that we found in this study, there were four of them, talking about extremely strongly in this statistical analysis.

Number one is empowering people.

And what that says is that if you want to have highly engaged staff, you really can’t have pure top-down leadership.

So what this suggests is that the most powerful form of leadership that any leader can execute, or demonstrate, or deliver is all about empowering people.

Now we understand that you can’t empower people totally, let them do whatever they want.

And in fact, I recommend that empowering groups is much more effective than empowering individuals alone, because empowering groups tends to create a sense of esprit de corps.

But it also tends to be somewhat self-regulating.

If they’re the right people and they have the right focus, then they will tend to help each other to remain on track.

So empowerment of groups is extremely powerful, but that’s the single most powerful thing that you can do.

Then optimism and positivity.

So what this is saying is that you can’t be a good leader if you are a negative, cynical, difficult, depressive.

It simply doesn’t work.

Leadership evolved so that the followers could end up with a better life.

That is intrinsically opposite, pessimism.

And why would you anybody follow somebody who’s pessimistic, because it implies that you’re following them for a worst life.

The third key behaviour is about being supportive and that’s about being kind, and helpful, and looking after your staff and flexing to meet their needs, be those needs, personal or professional.

An empowering leader who is supportive of their staff is the sort of leader that’s likely to be accepted and that people will want to follow.

And the fourth component is about helping people to learn.

People need to learn.

They love to learn.

Learning is an extremely powerful driver of people’s passion at work.

When people are learning, they tend to be far more individually motivated.

Succession management

So this diagram is about succession management (refer to the video).

And succession management is all about identifying the capabilities, the skills, the competencies that a staff member has right now, and then identifying the capabilities that are necessary for effective leadership, and building a development plan to get the person from point A to point B.

Now that requires an effective understanding of what the leadership capabilities are.

And it may well be that these capabilities here, and certainly when SACS is running leadership development programs, these are the kinds of things that we teach people, how to empower people, how to be optimistic and positive, how to be supportive, how to help people to learn.

And if you’ve got a capability of assessing the current state of a person’s leadership capabilities, and many clients have this in the form of competency frameworks for leadership, but what the person needs to aspire to, then you can develop a targeted development plan that helps the person to rise up the competency capability gap to be able to be an effective leader.

Derailing behaviours

Now, derailers.

What kinds of things derail people?

And you’ll notice that there’s a whole bunch of things here, which are characteristics, which are largely genetic or at least learned and acquired early in life.

So we talk about the dark triad personality traits.

And so the dark triad of personality is three non-typical personality characteristics.

And so one of them is a thing called psychopathy.

That’s where people are acting in a manipulative fashion.

It’s where people are acting in a dishonest fashion, and there are psychometric markers for this.

So for instance, the honesty humility scale of the HEXACO model of personality does indicate people who are likely to have psychopathy characteristics.

So you can psych test for this.

Narcissism, which is the second of the dark triad characteristics is where a person’s really seeking to self aggrandized all the time, and they’re seeking to cause themselves to be seen as something special.

And if you truly meet a genuine narcissist, it can be kind of surprising as to why they’re doing what they’re doing.

It’s almost as though the true narcissist has such an addiction to image and such an addiction to being elevated in the eyes of people around them, that they can’t control it.

And the third of the dark triad is Machiavellianism, and that’s where a person manipulates, manipulates other people.

And once more, we’ve seen people who are Machiavellians, who are so committed to manipulation, you start to believe, and you start to understand that manipulation is its own reward in the mind of the Machiavellian.

In other words, it’s not as though people are manipulating in order to achieve a particular purpose or outcome.

It’s manipulation for its own sake.

So that’s a derailer.

If people have this dark triad personality characteristic, then they are likely to be derailed as leaders.

Psychopaths, by the way, rarely rise to senior levels within organisations.

I know there’s a lot of press and a lot of folk belief that this is true, that you get psychopathic chief executives and psychopathic directors, and those sorts of things.

In fact, most psychopaths are too disorganised to rise up the ranks of seniority.

Narcissism and Machiavellianism, far more common in the C-suite than psychopathy is.

A second derailer is low conscientiousness.

And sometimes people think that people don’t have skills, but what they really don’t have is drive, or motivation, or energy, or organisation.

Conscientiousness is all about being organised, plan, and being highly motivated, so that can be a derailer.

The third derailer is emotional instability.

There is no doubt that as you rise up the levels of any organisation, your salary increases, but so does stress.

So people in the C-suite deal with extremely complex issues, they deal with challenging issues, they make decisions that affect other people all the time, and studies for decades have shown that making decisions that affect you alone is nowhere near as stressful as making decisions that affect other people.

So when people are rising up through the levels of seniority, if they have a degree of emotional instability, they quite often reach a level to which all of a sudden everything becomes too stressful, because that’s what emotional instability indicates.

When people are emotionally unstable, they don’t cope with stress so well.

And the next derailer is about high hedonism and the need for power.

So high hedonism is where I want to have fun all the time.

I can’t control this desire to have pleasurable experiences.

And the need for power is really where people are not pursuing outcomes at work.

They’re pursuing their own aggrandisement.

They pursuing their own authority.

So this is where people typically want to have authority over other people or over resources like money.

So if a person is a power seeker, that can be a very bad profile for leadership, because as power seekers become more senior, quite often they become kind of almost corrupted by that perception of their own increasing power, and they seek the wrong things.

Those are common derailers in the world of leadership development.

Transformational leadership – four traits

Now I want to talk to you about transformational leadership and I’m going to simplify the Purvanova and Bono model.

Purvanova and Bono in positing this perspective on transformational leadership.

Certainly this research has been very effective and it can be shown that transformational leadership, and we’re going to tell you some behaviours that are associated with transformational leadership, but transformational leaders do achieve higher levels of engagement amongst their staff.

And they also achieve higher levels of productivity, because of that.

Productivity in terms of quantity of work and quality of work, so transformational leadership works.

Now, four components.

Firstly, is idealised influence.

And idealised influence is where the leader can be somebody that people look up to.

And how do you become somebody that people can look up to?

Well you behave the right way.

You behave as an exemplar.

You behave as somebody who’s committed to the purpose of the organisation.

You behave with somebody who always tries to do the right thing ethically.

That’s an idealised influence component.

The second, inspirational motivation, is what Purvanova and Bono called this.

Inspirational motivation is all about ensuring that the team has a clear purpose, a clear goal, a clear set of objectives that they buy into.

And in fact, we often recommend that the best way of creating goals for a team is to make the staff members involved in setting the goals, doing it on a facilitative leadership basis.

And I’ll explain a little bit more about what facilitative leadership is and how to pursue it in a couple of slides time.

But where there are clear goals that people really care about, of course that’s better leadership, and that’s transformational leadership.

The third component is about intellectual stimulation, innovating, encourages creativity.

Well, I’m going to simplify that again and say that a transformational leadership causes people to learn.

That’s why those things, innovation and creativity, that’s why they work, because people are learning.

And when people are learning, that is extremely motivational for human beings.

Human beings love to learn.

And the fourth one is about individualised consideration.

And again, I’ll simplify that by saying, being kind to people.

Transformational leaders are the sorts of people who take the needs of staff into account, professionally in the sense of how you want to develop your career and how can I help?

And also personally, in the sense of how you have to get to your daughter’s birthday party, that’s no problem.

So an inspirational transformational leader is somebody who takes care of the corporate aspects of a person’s life and development, their professional development, as well as tries to help them from a personal point of view.

Now we started off by saying that a leader is somebody who people want to follow.

And you can imagine if you have a leader who has these characteristics, who lives up to the mission of being a leader, who creates clarity for people, who helps people, and who’s able to create an environment within the workplace that causes people to feel like they belong.

Well, obviously that’s the sort of thing that people want from a leader.

Facilitative leadership

And we’re going to show you now a concept called facilitative leadership.

And facilitative leadership, please understand that facilitative leadership is in fact an operational way of delivering transformational leadership.

So we call this facilitative leadership, because transformational leadership doesn’t clearly imply a set of behaviours for leaders, whereas facilitative leadership does.

In other words, good leaders learn to lead partially, and at the right time as a facilitator, rather than a boss.

So facilitative leadership is very closely aligned to transformational leadership and certainly facilitative leaders are very transformational.

So this diagram shows three models of leadership (refer to the video).

Model number one is where you do need to be the boss.

And good leaders need to do this.

A top down leader is somebody who tells people what to do, or tells a group of people what to do.

And we know that if somebody walks in for their first day at work, you don’t say to them, well look, what do you want to do?

You tell them, okay, well here’s your desk, or here’s your Zoom sign in, here’s your colleagues, here’s your diary.

And this is what we’ve scheduled for you for your induction.

That’s all top-down leadership, and it’s perfectly appropriate.

It’s also perfectly appropriate if the employee is a long-term employee and established, but there’s something that’s not negotiable.

Hey, the board has decided X, that’s what we’re going to do.

That’s top-down leadership, model one.

Model two is about consultation.

And consultation is where this leader goes out to various people and asks their opinion, and goes back to her office and decides what to do.

And basically once she’s decided what to do, then she communicates the message outward to everybody.

Now, the problem with consultative leadership is that if you don’t do what somebody has suggested to you, that you should do, they believe that all you’ve done is this.

And the further risk is that they may feel that the consultation that you’ve undertaken with them, if you haven’t got a very strong relationship, they may feel that the consultation was in fact not genuine.

They may feel, well, why did you pretend to consult me?

Because you just simply went ahead and did what you want.

So consultative leadership is a useful technique, but it’s nowhere near as useful as model three leadership, which is where the leader acts as a facilitator.

Now, what do I mean by facilitator.

A facilitator is a person who facilitates a group, who sets up a situation and a set of activities where the group will make the decision themselves.

So a true facilitative leader comes to the group with question or with a problem, or with an opportunity and says, hey, this is the problem, this is the opportunity, this is the question we need to resolve, and I want you guys to come up with a solution, and when you come up with that solution, I’m going to back that solution.

So the true facilitative leader comes into a situation where they haven’t made up their own mind.

And if you are going to be a true facilitative leader, don’t pretend to do it because facilitative leadership is a waterhole.

You can draw sustenance from it, but you can poison the water hole very easily by pretending to be a facilitative leader, because people then simply won’t believe you when you play this card in the future.

So the facilitative leader goes to the group and poses the problem, and good facilitative leaders, by the way, so we’ve got only five people in this one location.

And this location of course can be a physical location, like a boardroom, or it could be a digital location, like a Zoom or Microsoft Teams breakout rooms set up.

And what we can do is we can split those into small groups.

So with five people, it would be, say two groups, one of three and one or two.

But if it’s 40 people, you might well have 10 groups of four or something like that.

Eight groups of five, something of that nature.

Now, one of the benefits of doing this, there’s substantial psychological research that splitting the groups into these smaller groups gives a better diversity of solutions.

Because the first activity here is a kind of a brainstorming activity.

Come up with as many kooky ideas as you possibly can, because after we’ve come up with the kooky ideas, and some good ones too we hope, but once you’ve come up with the ideas, then we’re going to evaluate them.

And the evaluation process is typically a voting process, not a consensus process.

A majority wins process.

So when you run this kind of a process and it works, you will come up with a range of creative ideas, and that will be helpful for your solution.

So facilitative leadership, the leader acts like a facilitator, causes people to come up with a range of solutions, vote for those solutions, and then the facilitative leader backs that process of decision-making and backs the solution that they came up with.

And ideally, will also give the opportunity for the group to suggest who they would want to lead the initiative.

So the idea here is that we’ve come up with these ideas.

We’ve come up with these solutions.

This gets the greatest number of votes.

Which of you will run this?

So that’s true facilitation.

I will back you, but a member of the team will actually do this.

Successful change management

So change management, isn’t about persuading people.

Change management is about truly empowering people to come up with solutions and then backing them to execute those solutions.

Now this is the beautiful example of where you get a combination of high levels of empowerment with high levels of accountability.

You guys came up with a solution.

Now we will expect that this solution will be delivered.

And that’s kind of the optimum corporate culture.

High levels of empowerment comes with an increased level of engagement, morale, perception of meaning at work.

And the high level of accountability comes with performance and accountability structure is something that can be created in the very act of facilitative leadership.

So facilitative leadership has a number of benefits.

It’s empowering, provides control to staff, and that is something that increases the levels of engagement, but also causes higher levels of organisational citizenship behaviours.

Just to explain, organisational citizenship behaviours are where employees are doing good stuff that they don’t have to do.

They’re helping other people.

They’re volunteering for things.

They’re doing more than is necessary to keep their job.

That’s an organisational citizenship behaviour.

Facilitative leaders cause an environment which is challenging and requires problem solving and information processing, And they’re positive stressors.

They’re good stressors.

Bad stressors are things like where people are squabbling or arguing with each other, but this is a positive stressor.

It gives people an opportunity to exercise their brains.

And when people do this a lot, they become better at solving their own problems rather than turning to the leader to in effect, be rescued.

A good facilitator is inclusive and that validates diversity, and it also fosters engagement, which improves productivity, builds relationships, and collaboration through ideas rather than authority.

In other words, the creativity of this exercise tends to bond people together, but it also creates clarity in the process of working through these issues.

Creating the leaders of the future

So summary and conclusion.

There are a number of things that we’ve covered in this six videos sequence.

Leadership is primal.

Leadership is one of the most basic aspects of human interaction.

Leaders are natural.

Leaders emerge no matter what we try to do.

So it’s part of nature, not just for human beings to experience leadership, and to want leadership.

Leadership creates wellbeing.

So good leadership is not about being a boss alone.

It’s about creating wellbeing for employees.

Certain people are more suited to be leaders than others.

So are leaders born or made?

Well, they’re largely born, but they certainly can be made.

And a person who’s borderline in leadership capability can be made into a much more effective leader by good coaching, development, training, particularly with the focus on the behaviours of leadership that we mentioned just a few slides ago.

And what that means is that you can recruit leaders of the future.

You can model the leaders of the future on your best leaders now.

And I mentioned a technique called high performance modelling in one of the videos that are in this sequence.

The video is called ‘Modelling the Leaders of the Future‘ and what we do there is that we measure the characteristics of some of our best leaders, and we recruit against those, and we train against those, so that we can be much more tailored to our own individual needs as an organisation, in creating the leaders of the future.

Leaders can be developed.

Thanks for watching these videos on creation of the leaders of the future in the disability sector.

I hope the information has been of help to you.

If you need help on any of the topics that we’ve mentioned in the course of these videos, please don’t hesitate to click on the links below and we’ll do what we can do to help you out.

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Step 5 - Common traits of disability sector employees

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