Supervisory Leadership

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How do we develop leadership bench strength?

Lack of leadership bench strength is a direct result of getting away from the basics.

In the good old days, if they ever existed, companies developed their own leadership, hiring carefully and helping folks develop. That's still what happens in some companies.

Take GE. There have been very few CEOs in the entire history of the company and all of them have come up through the company. Not only that, GE exports leadership to other companies at all levels.

Now, compare that with most companies over the last couple of decades. We've fallen in love with the celebrity CEO and paid more attention to promises than to performance. We've gone outside for the CEO with the magic strategic stone that will make all things well, profitable and growing.

To get bench strength you start with smart hiring. Get the best people you can and indoctrinate them into a strong culture. Develop them throughout their careers using education, mentoring and assignments to help the best grow and stand out from the pack.

In the 1970s, George Hart took over an Oakland Police Department that was ineffective and had an awful reputation. By the time he left in the 90s, OPD was a veritable GE of bench strength. There was quality throughout the command ranks and down to the sergeants and OPD was exporting leadership. If it can be done in a police department with civil service hiring rules and tons of public strutiny, it can surely be done in a business.


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