Leadership Development that Sticks
Leadership Development has many labels: management training, executive training or programs, retreats, conferences, etc. The programs also vary from generalist themes like “How to be an Effective Leader” to more specific topics like “Performance Management”, “Leadership Communication” or “Strategic Thinking”. The role of being a leader is as broad as the options for development.
There are many best-practices for adult learning, but the most critical one is the importance of applying new skills and knowledge in the real world as soon as possible. We can read the books, watch the videos, listen to the lectures, even participate in simulations and role-plays, but real, sustainable learning transfer requires that the learner apply the new skills right away.
Of the many one-off executive and management training workshops out there, it is rare to find one that builds in accountability. The training provider can help with this, but participant managers are the most important aspect of accountability. Leaders have to work with their direct reports to hold them accountable for applying the new skill sets.
Traits of Ineffective Leadership
Before you can zero in on what kinds of leadership development is needed in your organization, it helps to identify the typical behaviours of ineffective leaders:
1. Reluctant to Give Up Control
We see this in many small to mid-sized firms. The owner/founder started very small and developed a habit of touching every part of the business every day. They would make every sale, check every product, sign every cheque, hire (and fire) every employee.
This is fine for very small organizations but becomes a choke point as the organization grows. When everything has to funnel through one person, the business can’t grow beyond the capacity of the individual. Not only does the company suffer, but so does the personal life of the leader.
2. Unable To Attract and Retain Great Employees
A key input for most companies today is people-power. Talented people who are willing to apply their skills to their work every day. Without people, there is no business. And great employees lead to great results.
Leaders play a key role here. Firstly, they set the stage for culture by both establishing the vision and values of the company explicitly, and by modelling the culture personally through their own behaviour. And great employees are attracted to more than just a paycheque; they want a workplace with a healthy culture.
3. Lack of a Future Focus
Struggling companies are those that spend too much time in the day-to-day at the expense of mid and long-term planning. They are constantly reacting and firefighting, and spend little to no time improving processes, efficiencies and looking for innovations.
This is the domain of leadership. Savvy leaders ensure that the company has a vision and a plan, and is always looking for ways to be better, smarter and faster.
The Top Qualities of Effective Leadership
Effective leaders display these characteristics and behaviours in every activity they undertake:
1. Values and Culture
Great leaders espouse the company’s personality and hold themselves to a high standard. Only in this way can they genuinely expect the same from others.
2. Delegation and Accountability
Admired executives are willing to delegate, and follow a specific and supportive process to hold people accountable for their tasks and results. This not only increases their own and the organization’s capacity, but it also gives employees development opportunities and a sense of ownership.
The best leaders know that what makes the organization successful today does not guarantee the same in the future. They think strategically by scanning the competitive landscape, anticipating the future, and setting in motion strategic change projects to ensure the company will be relevant in the future.
As the saying goes, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Leaders who demonstrate humility, empathy, and overall kindness will attract followers and loyalty from employees, customers, and other stakeholders.
Check out the Leadership Programs offered by Results to see what might fit your team.
Identifying Potential Leaders
Leadership is not about a title, pay grade or a name on an organization chart. Leaders can exist anywhere in an organization, and executives need to ensure that leadership development opportunities are available to them. Further, by using a process called Talent Mapping, high-potential employees can be identified early and groomed for promotion. This isn’t just beneficial for the employee but creates a leadership and succession pipeline for the organization.
Building Leaders Internally
As described above, learning transfer requires a real-world application. The leaders of the future in your organization need knowledge and skills, but also need opportunities to apply those skills. This requires a willingness to delegate as well as tolerance for mistakes and inefficiencies as the learning takes place. These are the investment costs of developing people, and building capability and capacity for the future.
Next Steps – Benefits Of Hiring a Leadership Consultant
Most of the investment in leadership development will be wasted if people are sent away to conferences and courses in an ad-hoc way. These can be valuable, but only when senior leaders take a proactive approach to identifying potential leaders, giving them the skills and know-how, and following that with application opportunities, accountability and feedback. This is where an outside, trusted advisor can help navigate the best approach for your specific company.
Contact Results today to learn how you can better develop leadership within your company, and yourself.