Purposeful Talent Development: 3 Barriers to Acceleration

executive standing a window shaped like a rocket ready for acceleration
Jennifer Stangl Photo
Director of Professional Development

3 minutes

These questions will help you overcome them.

The need to accelerate talent development is not new but is becoming more important in today’s changing landscape. We are inundated every day with a push to develop leaders faster to meet the demands of changing markets, adapt to the evolving needs of members, and ensure we have talent ready to lead today—and tomorrow.

Many times, the barriers to accelerating leadership development can feel overwhelming. There are, however, ways to address them and move forward. 

Barrier #1: Lack of an Organizational Standard

It can be extremely difficult to accelerate development when we lack an organizational standard for leaders. There are two questions to consider here:

  • “What are we seeing in our leaders?” 
  • “What should we be seeing in our leaders?”

“What are we seeing in our leaders?” can be answered to understand gaps and identify the right intervention for development. 

The answer to the question, “What should we be seeing in our leaders?” sets a standard, giving a direction for development within the organization. It also gives leaders something to grow toward. 

Overall, the process of answering these questions aligns leadership development to the organization’s mission and strategy and provides a benefit to the leader. 

When you think you’ve overcome this barrier, ask yourself: Do you have established leadership competencies that are used to evaluate an individual to create an individualized plan to support development?

Barrier #2: Lack of Agility in Development Plans

How do we develop leaders to keep pace with changing business demands and shifts in organizational priorities?

One way to solve this is to adopt an 80-20 rule in creating a development plan. When it comes to leadership development, some key competencies do not change. Skills and behaviors within communication, trust and building relationships are standard for leaders to understand and practice. When creating a development plan, use these key competencies as the foundation (the 80 percent) and leave space for individual needs (20 percent). The individual needs could be based on desired areas of development, focused competencies to build skills needed for a specific role, or new organizational initiatives. Accelerating leadership development is more achievable when the individuals being developed have something to strive for and feel personally connected.

When you think you’ve overcome this barrier, ask yourself: Do you create development plans for leaders that provide room to adjust without needing to restructure the entire plan?

Barrier #3: Insufficient Follow Through 

How do we accelerate development when learning is viewed as an item to check off your list? 

Learning is not a single occurrence. It should be experienced over time and connected to daily and future work. With any learning there needs to be an opportunity to apply the knowledge to build a skill and help change behavior. Often, we leave this in the hands of the learner, but not everyone has the foresight to identify opportunities for application. Therefore, learning is checked off as complete, then cast aside to focus time on other tasks. To support the application of knowledge, create learner-advisor pairs. Connect leaders within the organization, to provide an accountability partner, help focus leaders’ development and make learning a continuous event.

When you think you’ve overcome this barrier, ask yourself: Does your credit union support development of leaders by asking them to identify ways they can put their new knowledge into action—and then follow up with them?

To accelerate the development of a leader, use competencies to identify the gaps, select the intervention that is best for that individual’s development and partner them with someone who can support their development. The more we can individualize the learning experience, the greater the opportunity for development. 

Jennifer Stangl is CUES’ director of professional development.

CUES is rolling out its new 2019 membership options, with more benefits, more resources and more value. This translates to more opportunities to accelerate your team’s development and reach your credit union’s goals. Learn more at

You may also wish to check out Vertex, a customized manager training program, and CEO Institute, the industry’s best in executive development.

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