Group of businesspeople blurred out
Leadership Development

5 Key Questions to Make Leadership Management Decisions

In today's dynamic and competitive business environment, the effectiveness of an organization's leadership talent strategy plays a critical role in its success. This article looks deeper into these topics, offering insights and best practices on enhancing your leadership talent strategy and paving the way for your organization's growth and success. 

An effective leadership talent strategy encompasses multiple facets, from assessing current capabilities of your leadership team and fostering DE&I initiatives to aligning the strategy with overall business objectives and personalizing growth paths for leadership talent.

These five interrelated questions around leadership management can help you and your team make better leadership decisions:

  1. When is the right time to promote internally, and when is it the right time to search externally?
  2. How can we provide a personalized, effective growth path for our leadership talent?
  3. What are our leaders capable of doing today?
  4. How do we become more diverse and equitable while advancing and growing our leader talent pool?
  5. How can we ensure our leadership talent strategy is aligned with our business strategy?

When is the right time to promote internally, and when is it the right time to search externally?

Promoting internally has benefits, including motivation, loyalty, and continuity. Understanding what leaders you have and what leaders you need can help to align key internal talent to the right positions. 

In addition to surfacing internal talent with the capabilities and background you need to fill key leadership roles; a leadership intelligence platform can uncover gaps you need to fill with on-demand talent and external candidates. External hires can bring fresh perspectives and new skills required to drive business growth. The build/buy challenge for HR professionals can be addressed with a data-backed approach that provides insights and visibility into where you need to look externally for talent or who you already have in your organization who can fill critical roles. 

The right approach depends on your needs and leadership talent pipeline. Analyze your requirements, assess internal candidates objectively with AI-driven data, and determine if an external search will expand your options. 

How can we provide a personalized, effective growth path for our leadership talent?

It’s imperative to create customized leadership development plans for high-potential leaders based on their strengths, gaps, and career aspirations. The first step in doing this is identifying these leaders, including those who may not be ready now but are part of your overall succession plan for critical leadership roles in the future. 

Ideas to support leadership development include providing challenging assignments, mentorship, education, and networking opportunities to help them gain valuable experience. Regularly review progress and make adjustments to keep plans relevant. Conduct regular leadership assessments to track progress and ensure alignment with your organization's role profiles. A recent Josh Bersin study found that companies with a well-designed succession and leadership assessment program are 2.3x more likely to adapt to change and 2.5x more likely to innovate effectively.

Investing in tailored growth paths helps ensure leaders reach their full potential and advances succession planning. According to a Heidrick & Struggles report of executives at over 2,000 companies globally, only 43% of organizations have a formal succession plan for the CEO and their direct reports. When leaders feel a personal stake in their growth plans, their motivation and commitment to achieve their goals increases, directly impacting your business strategy.

Learn more about Heidrick Navigator
Assess, manage, and develop your leadership population at scale to achieve your goals.

What are our leaders capable of doing today?

Conducting leadership capability assessments provides insight into skills, behaviors, motivations, and potential across your leadership talent pipeline. Identify strengths to leverage and gaps to address through targeted development. 

Leadership assessments also inform succession planning by revealing who is ready to take on more responsibility today and who needs additional support to prepare for future roles. Continuously evaluating your leadership bench strength enables data-driven leadership talent decisions.

While assessments offer essential insights, it's equally important to consider how leaders perform in their current roles. Are they meeting targets and expectations? Do they inspire their teams and foster a positive work environment? The answers to these questions can provide additional context to your assessment findings and further inform your leadership talent decisions.

How do we become more diverse and equitable while advancing and growing our leader talent pool?

Building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive leadership pipeline requires a commitment to inclusive policies and practices. One study shows that only 47% of CEOS say they have the infrastructure to realize their DE&I aspirations.

Examine your leadership talent lifecycle for biases and barriers, set diversity goals, expand sourcing and hiring strategies to reach more candidates from underrepresented groups, and provide equal career and leadership advancement opportunities regardless of gender, ethnicity, or other attributes. Make diversity and inclusion a strategic priority to cultivate a leadership team that reflects your customer and employee base.

Promoting DE&I is not a one-time effort but an ongoing commitment. It involves routinely examining your business practices, from recruitment to performance evaluation to leadership development, and ensuring they are fair and inclusive. It's also about fostering a culture where all voices are heard and valued. This drives innovation, enhances decision-making, and reflects positively on your brand.

Utilizing a leadership talent platform can aid in establishing DE&I benchmarks for each role and in your succession pipeline, providing essential big-picture data and offering insights into the current diversity within your leadership team. It highlights whether you meet, exceed, or fall short of diversity benchmarks in your succession pipelines. Armed with this information, you can make informed adjustments, filling gaps where necessary to align with and achieve your DE&I goals.

How can we ensure our leadership talent strategy is aligned with our business strategy?

Your leadership talent strategy must support organizational goals to drive business results. Analyze your business objectives and determine the leadership skills and attributes required for success. Ensure your leadership pipeline, development programs, and succession plans are designed to achieve those competencies. Regularly evaluate how well your leadership talent strategy supports critical business priorities and make adjustments as needed. Alignment between leadership strategy and business strategy is critical to execution and growth.

To maintain alignment between your leadership strategy and business strategy, it is vital to have clear and open lines of communication between the executive team and HR. This allows for a mutual understanding of business objectives and the needs and challenges of the leadership talent pool. It also enables real-time adjustments to the leadership strategy in response to shifts in business objectives or changes in the external business environment.


The effectiveness of your leadership talent strategy is vital to your organization's success. It involves thoroughly understanding your internal and external talent pools, developing personalized growth paths for critical leaders and leadership roles, and a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Ultimately, a successful leadership strategy aligns with business objectives and is flexible enough to adapt to changing business environments.

Constant communication, assessment, and strategy revision will ensure that your leadership team remains equipped to effectively meet your business goals. This ongoing, holistic approach will lead to a more robust, diverse, and skilled leadership team that propels your organization toward its envisioned future.

Learn more about Heidrick Navigator
Drive business growth with the right leaders in the right roles. Click here to learn more about Heidrick Navigator’s leadership intelligence platform.