Creating Supportive Paths into Leadership

Adelle Harrington Adelle Harrington Vice President, KellyOCG EMEA

As I move into my new role as Vice President, KellyOCG EMEA, I’ve been reflecting on leadership development and how thoughtful and self-aware leaders can shape positive career experiences throughout an organisation.

Despite the importance of strong leadership, the DDI Global Leadership Trends for 2021 report found that just 11% of HR professionals believe they have a strong bench to fill leadership roles – with confidence in internal leadership candidates dropping significantly over the last decade.

Why is confidence in developing leaders low? One explanation is that some organisations expect people to lead without ever validating that they can actually lead. They don’t provide the training, they don’t provide the experience, and they don’t provide the on-the-job support and feedback that new leaders desperately need. This traditional ‘sink or swim’ approach to management can create frustrated and ineffective leaders who either exit a business quickly or fall into unhealthy leadership habits.

So, what skills does a great leader need, and can businesses shape their internal development strategies to build them?


Have you ever experienced a boss with zero self-awareness? Most people have worked with a least one – the type that has no concept of their strengths or weaknesses and generally believes they have all the answers, often ignoring advice from their expert team. Self-reflection is a vital part of leadership, and it’s incredibly difficult to retroactively extract it from a poor but longstanding leader. Mentoring, coaching, and regular meaningful feedback can ensure new and potential leaders hone their self-awareness skills and make self-reflection a habit.


Whether they’re leading a small team or a global business, leaders set the tone for the people they support. And an inauthentic persona can quickly breed feelings of mistrust and low confidence among employees. At first glance, it may seem impossible for organisations to produce or support more authentic leaders – after all, authenticity is highly subjective. However, by developing a culture based on honesty and openness, and creating space for people to bring their whole selves to work, organisations can promote greater authenticity at every level.


The very best leaders understand there is no one-size-fits-all leadership style and flex their approach to the person they are supporting. While organisations that have confidence in their leaders give them the freedom to make personalised leadership decisions. In my last blog, I touched on hybrid work and the mixed feelings around it – from both workers and businesses. But this is a great example of how flexible leaders can create an environment where people do their very best work. If you have a team member who is most productive at home, or when they can pick up their kids over lunch, or when they can start early or finish late and it has no negative business impact, then why not do it?

Leadership is a learning curve – particularly in a world of work that’s characterised by constant and fast-moving change. But in an environment where nothing feels certain, great leadership is more important than ever. This means companies that focus investment – both financially and time-wise – in leadership development will have a huge advantage over the competition.

How do you develop great leaders in your business? For me, leadership is an ever evolving process, and I’m excited to grow and develop my skills further in an organisation that supports and champions my development. I would love to hear your thoughts.


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