HOW TO BRING LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT TO LIFE FOR BUSY MANAGERS
Some tips on transformational leadership development for Coaches and Consultants
Leo Tolstoy famously said: “everyone wants to change the world, but no one wants to change themselves”. Herein lies your biggest challenge as a Coach/Consultant. All transformation begins with personal transformation.
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Transformational Leadership in action
The predictions are, we will see more big change and transformation in the next 20 years than the whole of the last 200 years combined. The forces of AI, big data, electric cars, driverless cars, the green economy, the move from fossil fuels, cryptocurrency, digitization, gene therapy, nanotechnology…the list goes on. All of these mean our business models, our ways of working, our leadership models and organisational models have to adapt. What worked yesterday, may not be effective in the new world of constant disruption.
If you’re a practitioner in the leadership development space, how do you inspire busy leaders to change and adapt, faster than the speed of change? Here are five practical activities you can include in any meeting or leadership development workshop. These activities work by engaging managers in important questions. They encourage debate, reflection and lead to ‘so what’ questions…….what will I do differently, how will I adapt and learn, so I can make a difference and become a transformational leader.
Activity 1: What good do we bring to the world?
This is a powerful question for any management team to answer. It’s an audacious question and not easy to answer. But this gets to the heart of purpose and meaning. Why do we exist and what good do we bring to the world. How do our products and services improve the lives of our communities, our consumers and our employees?
We know the profit motive does not inspire people. It’s a basic necessity for most businesses. Too many goals and priorities are financially loaded. But what if every employee were crystal clear on how their business or organisation contributed something positive to the world. Something beyond bland statements. The intention to serve or make a difference is heartfelt and every meeting, every conversation starts with how well we’re doing in being of service.
Transformational leadership starts with undertaking a moonshot. Some big bold goals which scare and excite in equal measure.
What if you gave a management team this question to sleep on, reflect on, consult their teams, customers and suppliers – so they had to collate real data, stories and experiences. Then at the end of a 4-6 week data gathering activity, the team pooled their wisdom, insights and experiences to inform their thinking. What if at the same time, the management team encouraged other teams to do the same to inform and influence their thinking?
Leadership development becomes juicy and exciting when you ask the right questions. As humans we’re wired to learn, evolve and develop. But we can also get stuck in our ways and resist change when it is imposed on us.
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Activity 2: What do we want to be famous for?
This big question now builds on the previous transformational leadership activity. This now gets into core organisational capabilities. What are the few things we can do better than anyone else? How will these unique capabilities help us to stand out? How will they transform the customer experience? What do we want to be loved for as a brand?
The issue for many management teams is they are pushed and pulled in so many directions. But what if they consciously identified the few things we will excel at, the few things that are non-negotiable AND will make the biggest difference to our customers?
Any management or leadership team working through this question begins to formulate, not just why they need to change, but HOW they need to change. Change is exciting when you’re making it happen. It can be painful when it is imposed on you.
Working through this question can help simplify life for time-poor managers. It truly identifies what will we say ‘yes’ to and what will we say ‘no’ to. As we know, if everything matters, then nothing matters.
Activity 3: What do I need to STOP doing to become a transformational leader?
Organisational transformation relies on individual transformation. A business runs off the heart and ingenuity of the people who work there. When individuals step-up….performance and change steps up.
Sometimes what’s needed is not more skills and capabilities to grow. What’s needed is time to stop, pause, reflect and adapt. We live in a world of being accessible 24/7/365. We are always ‘on’. Always busy. We simply don’t have the bandwidth to transform, when it’s easier to do what we’ve always done.
Transformation requires a conscious, deliberate focus. A will. Energy. Drive. Determination. Only when you ask managers what will you stop doing, so you create the head space and the time to think, does personal transformation begin to take place.
Sometimes it’s not what ‘outside of us’ that holds us back. It’s what on the ‘inside’. Only when we stop, pause and reflect, do we get a clearer picture of how we need to adapt and grow.
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Activity 4: How will I grow and develop faster than the speed of change?
Learning and transformation go hand in hand. They’re two-sides of the same coin. Often managers can assume they’ve reached a level of seniority, where learning does not apply to them – it’s what others around them need to do.
Yet senior managers who own their development, invest time in learning, being coached, get feedback and are able to demonstrate the progress they’re making – can be a source of inspiration for others.
Personal growth and personal leadership are the prerequisites for business transformation. A team who build learning into their operational meetings, who encourage weekly or regular peer-to-peer coaching, who have agenda items in their meetings on the progress of learning and development in the business – are setting themselves up for success. Actions shout louder than words. There are so many things management teams can not control. But their learning is definitely something they can own.
Activity 5: How will this team develop each other to thrive in change?
We know how easy it is to break a commitment you make to yourself. But going public, means your commitment levels are higher. Having people encouraging you, acting as your supporter and willing you on, is a further nudge to stick with it and start seeing results.
Too often management teams end up working in their functional silos. But what if you broke this pattern by encouraging a collective mindset? Where peers can become Coaches and Mentors for each other?
What if the culture the team fostered was of constant improvement. Of sharing learning, sharing insights, sharing stories of what’s worked and what hasn’t. What if the management team agreed to develop both professional skills and life skills. In the case of the latter, how to meditate. How to switch off from work. How to look after our physical and mental wellbeing. And, what they measure themselves on is happiness and productivity vs hours worked.
To discuss any of this further, drop me a note: firstname.lastname@example.org.