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Talent Retention Strategy: Engage and Develop Leaders

Retain top talent by offering growth opportunities for leaders. Engage and develop employees, increase job satisfaction, and reduce turnover.

Leadership retention is a crucial issue for organizations today. In fact, according to Deloitte's talent attraction and retention survey, it's the top priority for CEOs today. Considering that nearly half of all leaders leave their organization within five years of being promoted into management roles, it is easy to see why this has become a concern for leaders at all levels. 

For talent management teams, it is essential to provide opportunities for growth and advancement. But what does this mean exactly?  

  • How do we define career growth opportunities? 
  • How do we define leadership role profiles? 
  • How can we measure them to know whether our programs are working?

The cost of recruitment vs. retention

Recruitment is a significant expense. According to research by Harvard Business Review, only about half of new hires stay with their companies after two years. This means that hiring costs can range from $5k-$15k per person, which is just the beginning!

The cost of recruitment includes:

  • Hiring fees (including agency fees)
  • Employee onboarding costs 
  • Cost of lost productivity while the company searches for a candidate
  • Loss of productivity while leader ramps up into new position 

In Heidrick & Struggles' Route to the Top survey, 78% of CEOs at current Fortune 100 companies were promoted internally. The wider pool of talent needed to fill critical executive talent positions often comes from within. But how do you know who is suitable for what role? 

Promoting from within can be an effective strategy for companies when filling critical executive talent positions. By promoting from within, organizations can leverage their existing talent pool's knowledge, skills, and experience and save time and resources on external recruitment efforts. However, it is essential to identify the right leadership talent for the right role.

One approach to identifying internal leadership talent is to conduct a comprehensive assessment. Assessments can help identify an employee's strengths, weaknesses, potential, and fit for a particular role or position. 

Another way to identify potential internal leader talent is by establishing a leadership development program. Such programs can provide opportunities for employees to develop their leadership skills, gain exposure to different business functions, and take on new challenges. The program can include coaching, mentoring, and job rotation opportunities to help employees prepare for future leadership roles.

Creating a culture that supports internal leadership talent development and progression is also essential. Companies can do this by providing regular feedback, coaching, and opportunities for growth and development. By fostering a continuous learning and development culture, leaders are more likely to stay engaged and motivated, leading to better retention rates and a more robust leadership pipeline.

Leadership intelligence platforms 

A leadership intelligence platform is an advanced tool designed to assist organizations in making informed and effective leadership decisions. It harnesses proactive, data-driven insights derived from the comprehensive analytics that the platform provides. It enables businesses to deeply understand their leadership assets through dynamic leader profiles that reveal the potential business and cultural impact leaders can bring. 

By leveraging a leadership intelligence platform, organizations can identify the leadership roles required to achieve their strategic objectives and align them with industry trends and essential characteristics that drive successful outcomes. Overall, a leadership intelligence platform empowers businesses to optimize their leadership capabilities and make strategic decisions that maximize their potential for success.

Using a holistic approach to create a retention plan

A crucial benefit of using a leadership intelligence platform is that it enables you to take a holistic approach to retention planning.

A leadership intelligence platform such as Heidrick & Struggles’ Heidrick Navigator platform, the first of its kind pioneering the space of leadership intelligence, shows the leaders you currently have and the broader leadership talent pool within your organization. This means that you can identify potential leaders who may be suitable for future roles and those who are ready to step up and take on more responsibility now.

Retention planning also allows you to tailor your approach to the specific needs of each leader. Heidrick Navigator considers each leader's unique strengths, weaknesses, and career goals and provides personalized recommendations for developing and retaining them. This ensures that your retention plan is practical and tailored to your organization's and your leaders' specific needs.

In addition to providing insights into your leaders, leadership talent platforms like Heidrick Navigator can help you identify potential gaps in your leadership pipeline. By analyzing data on your leadership pipeline and comparing it to industry benchmarks, the platform can help you identify areas where you may need to invest more in leadership development or leadership talent acquisition.

Using technology at scale to create a retention plan is a wise investment for any organization that wants to develop and retain its leaders. By leveraging the ability of technology to provide robust data analysis capabilities and personalized recommendations, you can create a retention plan tailored to your organization's specific needs and helps ensure long-term success.

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

A better way to attract and retain top talent

A comprehensive leadership talent management strategy is a proactive approach to attracting and retaining top leaders in a competitive market. It involves: 

  • Demonstrating the importance of a strong employer brand
  • Creating an engaging work environment
  • Assessing leaders regularly 

Companies can build their brand as an employer, including its values, culture, and employee experience, by creating engaging work environments and building cultures that foster employee satisfaction, motivation, and commitment.

Leaders who feel supported and challenged in their roles are more likely to stay with their organization long-term. Regular leadership assessments, as part of a leadership talent management strategy, provide valuable insights into a leader's strengths, weaknesses, and potential for growth. This allows organizations to identify high-potential employees and provide development opportunities to help them advance in their careers.

Leadership talent retention strategy

HR leaders must create a leadership retention strategy using insights backed by leadership intelligence data to begin building a leadership retention plan. A retention plan is a strategic approach to keeping leadership engaged and happy. It's not just about ensuring people don’t leave but stay with the company long enough to be successful.

A successful retention plan should include the following:

  • A clear understanding of each leader's needs, goals, and motivations (what makes them tick)
  • An actionable plan that helps leaders grow within their current roles and prepare for future opportunities within the organization
  • Opportunities to build strong relationships with their peers, subordinates, and higher-ups, which can be achieved through activities like team-building exercises, networking events, and mentoring programs.

A retention plan should also address the issue of work-life balance. A company that prioritizes the well-being of its employees and offers flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting and flexible hours, is more likely to retain its leaders. It's also essential to ensure that leaders can access adequate resources, technology, and training to help them succeed in their roles.

Providing career growth and development opportunities is another critical component of a retention plan. Leaders are more likely to stay with a company that offers them the chance to learn new skills, take on new responsibilities, and advance their careers. This can be accomplished through promotions, job rotations, and training programs that build leadership competencies.

Finally, it's essential to regularly assess the effectiveness of the retention plan and adjust as necessary. This involves regularly soliciting feedback from leaders, identifying areas of improvement, and implementing changes that address issues and concerns. By doing so, a company can ensure that its retention plan remains relevant, effective, and aligned with the needs and aspirations of its leaders.

You can’t know what you don’t know. Using data to drive decision-making allows organizations to act on succession and retention planning effectively. 

Heidrick Navigator

Heidrick Navigator is a tool that helps you understand the leaders you have and what succession pipelines they fall into. Gaining insight into your leadership assets through dynamic leader profiles will help you to understand the impact on both business strategy and culture that your leaders create. 

If you're going to retain top leadership talent, it's important that every leader knows their career goals and has clear paths toward achieving them. Having visibility into your leadership talent and how they match against your existing and future leadership needs is crucial to your succession planning and career pathing.


The importance of retaining top leadership talent is well known. But what needs to be understood is how to do it effectively. There are strategies you can employ to help your leaders stay engaged and motivated, which will ultimately lead to greater retention rates.

A key strategy is providing career growth opportunities for leaders, not only in the form of promotions and raises. Career growth includes giving opportunities outside of functional areas so they can experience new challenges and learn new skills while also expanding their network within the organization. This type of development increases engagement by increasing job satisfaction while helping organizations retain top performers who may otherwise leave because they're bored or dissatisfied with their current roles.

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.