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How to develop leaders for the next generation

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'You achieve very little alone, so one of the most important jobs a leader has to do is to select their team and then commit to each individual's success. To lead you must lead by example.'
Anne Heraty, CEO, Cpl

So true, right? After all, people are at the heart of creating and driving business success.

I was asked recently 'how do we go about building the next generation of leaders?' which led me to write this blog. With 20 years' working in the world of talent solutions here's what I've learned, combined with insights from my colleagues Lisa, Steve, Judith and �ine.

Opportunities and Encouragement

Strong leaders provide opportunities and encourage emerging leaders to take on new challenges. To create leaders trust is key and you need to provide the right tools, environment and support to flourish.

The encouragement of my own 'trusted tribe' along the road often helped open new opportunities that progressed my experience and leadership journey, especially at times when they had more confidence in me than I had in myself.

Having a dream is great, however, you also need a clear plan to drive that dream. If one of your team has a leadership ambition help them structure it and support them with the resources they need to succeed.

Mentor Programs & Coaching

A trusted advisor, internally or externally, formal or informally, who has already been through the journey is invaluable. Coaching and Mentor programs create learning and networking opportunities and again offer support to potential leaders.

Cpl Managing Director List Holt offered the following great advice regarding choosing a mentor:
'I found it crucial to have a mentor outside of work in my early career - particularly when I took on more people responsibility and found myself challenged for time. My advice is always chosen someone older and wiser, someone who has the experience of managing people and has been challenged in their career and take any opportunity possible to chat to them and shoot the breeze.'

For me personally, I've had three standout bosses who had a strong impact on my career journey - all hugely successful business people who continue to inspire. Help your people secure a mentor or coach and make these types of programs the norm within your organisation.

Continuous Learning

Lifelong learning is now more vital than ever before. Speaking about the importance of continuous learning Judith Moffett, Cpl Science Director, advises'� 'keep learning, be self-aware of your strengths and weaknesses, ask for feedback and bridge the gaps in your learnings. Pay special attention to emotional intelligence and how to maintain peak performance through learning how to manage your overall wellness too, mental and physical, a big mistake is to neglect this, and people often do.'

The same goes for your employees too, encourage them to enrol in any available training and to look after their mental health too. Without developing resilience and the tools to manage stress they'll only go so far on the career ladder.

Within Cpl our management training programmes are designed to build confidence & capability, to help drive performance, to hone people management skills and to improve employee engagement.
Through these training programs, everyone can make great new connections and build new skills & strengths. We've seen great results and received super positive feedback.

While more recently we've introduced Mental Health training to educate our managers on how to help team members through difficult times.

Aine Fanning, Cpl's Service Delivery Director, points out'� 'developing as a leader is a mix of being proactive in your own personal development and asking for the support you need to take you to the next level.'

If your company doesn't have a dedicated programme or L&D team there are other a myriad of ways to drive innovation and leadership. For example, micro bite learning on the internet, coaching, regular feedback sessions and concrete goal setting can all help your leadership development.

Feedback is vital to growth no matter what stage of your career you're at - both positive and constructive.


As the saying goes 'sponsorship is what people say about you when you're not in the room'. The benefits of internal sponsorship can't be understated - including access to opportunities, to events and education, and increased visibility to senior leaders and the wider business.

Sponsorship from my own network of friends, colleagues and bosses at different stages has been very impactful on my career. Treasure and look after your network of connections. Pay it forward and act as a sponsor when you're in the position - a recommendation speaks volumes.

My colleague Science & Engineering Director Judith Moffett sums it up well: 'for both mentoring and sponsorship, your network is key, but take care to not neglect this. Work to build a deeper rapport with people and really listen and get to know them, these will develop into friendships, that will span a lifetime. Your career will blossom based on the sincerity of your network and if you really take time to nurture that network and value them, this will pay back tenfold, from a personal and professional perspective.'

Businesses that embrace this kind of sponsorship also create a culture of support, which again encourages talent within the organisation to generate and lead new ideas. By shouting about your teams' achievements, you'll also cultivate their talent and really encourage a spirit of leadership.


There are many ways to help develop the next generation of leaders, but ultimately, it's all about empowering your team to act and take charge of their own careers. To quote Cpl Sales Director Stephen Mullin 'It's vital for people to be responsive to change and take ownership of their personal development in order to grow, develop and succeed.'

Encourage your people to ask about opportunities, say yes to networking events, take on new challenges and celebrate their successes. It's always exciting and rewarding to see the next wave of talent shining.

Whether you're already in a leadership position or not, as Anne says we achieve very little alone. To succeed we need to choose the right people for our teams and propel them to succeed.

If you'd like advice on how to build your team or if you're looking to hire, please get in touch.