The Next Stage

Want to ascend to a true leadership role? Be prepared to let go of what you're good at.

Such a passing of the baton requires a leap of faith, to be sure, especially in today’s precarious economy. “The pressures are even greater than normal to focus on the bottom line, and not even next quarter but the end of the week,” acknowledges Sweetman. “But the business is going to continue beyond the end of the week. A leader is thinking about that long-term future.”

Kate O’Sullivan is a senior writer at CFO.

But Enough about You

Finance executives can use the career-stages model to assess talent companywide.

Building on the work of former Harvard Business School professors Gene Dalton and Paul Thompson, the career-stages model of leadership development outlined in the book TheLeadership Code can be used to evaluate talent needs throughout an organization. Even a quick exercise in which managers assess the leadership potential of their teams can provide a telling picture of strengths and weaknesses, says Kate Sweetman, co-author of the book and a consultant at The RBL Group, which employs the model. “It can be shocking to people when they realize intellectually what they need and then look at what they’ve got,” she says.

Among other things, the model enables managers to:
• determine the company’s distribution of talent
• determine how many people the company needs at each stage to reach its goals (few businesses require many stage-four leaders; ones and twos will typically be in greater demand)
• have discussions with employees about the overall structure of their careers
• change the company’s recruiting strategy as required — K.O’S.

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