The Reality Business have been running Management and Leadership programmes now for just over 10 years. Over that time we’ve experienced a multitude of organisations and business sectors and worked with delegates from junior first line management roles all the way up to Director’s and CEO’s.

We often get asked by senior managers for our views of the people we’ve had through our programmes and where this can be done in a way that satisfies our values of trust and integrity we are happy to do this.  Such discussions very often include the question “are they ready for stepping up to the next management level yet”?   So I’ve been thinking recently as to what criteria I think need to be satisfied for us to answer that question with an unequivocal “YES, ABSOLUTELY”.

For me the starting point is to ask myself “to what extent would I trust this person to be able to do a great job” and I therefore reflect on the dual axis of trust namely “character” and “competence”.


On the former I’m looking to feel comfortable that the individual demonstrates confidence, integrity, passion, drive, energy and an appetite for continual learning – and one might well argue that these aren’t things that can be trained…………………….whereas in terms of competence I’d be looking to see that they had demonstrated a multitude of people related skills such as managing and leading, working well with stakeholders and so on, and the technical knowledge needed for the role in question.

On this competency axis is where investment in that individual both by themselves and the organisation they work for can help move those people who aren’t ready, or are nearly ready, up the necessary level of notches to be banging at the promotional door. In a similar way, a lack of recognition of the need to create this sort of “talent pipeline” or recognising the need but not doing anything about it, can leave organisations very vulnerable to losing key talent and to costly recruitment from the external marketplace.

Such investment should, or could, include a range of planned and targeted development such as active involvement with both technical and people training, which can be sourced and run either internally or externally, managers being trained as coaches, mentoring schemes, self-study initiatives, job swaps, opportunities to “act up” for short periods of time and formal qualifications.

I have a deep belief that there is a massive pool of talent out there, and I see numerous examples of incredibly talented individuals hugely frustrated by their organisations inability to provide aspirational opportunity to them and typically they either lose their energy and motivation and just “accept” it, or they leave – neither of which strike me as a great outcome for the organisation they work for.

So, if you know you have talent in your organisation, you need to cherish and nurture it, and make sure you provide opportunities!