We have to challenge the notion leadership development is exclusively for those at the top
With the relentless speed of change and disruption, one thing is clear……the world needs more leaders. How ready, willing and able are you to grow more leaders?
Grow More Leaders
As a Coach, Consultant or Trainer, how motivated are you to add leadership development to your portfolio? And what exactly does leadership development entail – beyond sending senior players off to a business school for a week or two?
What’s broken with the existing model of leadership development?
The biggest issue is it is too exclusive. For obvious reasons every organisation has a limited pot of budget, so will invest it in those deemed ‘most worthy’. In some cases this may be high potentials – those in the top right of the 9-box matrix. Or the investment goes into future Exec members or future Directors.
The problem with sending ‘a few’ to a leadership programme, is the learning quickly vanishes when they come back to their organisations. Quite simply ‘the few’ find it near impossible to implement their ideas on ‘the many’, as they have not had the same journey, insights, teaching and wisdom. Chances are, anything not implemented within a month of leaving a business school or leadership programme, risks never getting done.
So what’s the alternative you may be asking? We offer suggestions here of five different forms of leadership development – ensuring any organisation has a critical mass of ‘leaders with title’ and ‘leaders without title’. This way of thinking ensures leadership becomes inclusive, available for everyone, at every level. High performance cultures need everyone from the top, middle and customer facing colleagues to show-up as the best version of themselves.
How To Develop Leaders At Every Level
Leadership development takes many guises. You don’t have to send people off on a course. Think of a programme of activities, which keeps reinforcing powerful messages: leadership is about testing yourself and smashing your limitations. Leadership is about elevating those around you. Leadership is about managing your emotions and your energy when the chips are down. Let’s discuss the ways you can bring leadership development alive:
Dysfunctional teams are easy to spot. The infighting, cynicism, politics and toxic behaviour shows up in poor performance and poor mental wellbeing. Every team benefits from coming together and evaluating how they can be better this quarter than last. The strength of the team comes down to the strength of the individuals. Every team member needs to be committed to the overall purpose of the team, the goals agreed and their responsibility in delivering on their individual goals – but also supporting the collective goals – easier said than done.
A team development programme will typically explore the following:
- Are we delivering on the things we said were important?
- Are we thriving and enjoying being a member of this team?
- Are we openly helping, supporting and watching-out for each other?
- Are we role modelling our values and ways of working?
- Are we available for each other, when the chips are down?
- Are we constantly re-prioritising, so we’re investing our energy on the right things?
What if any individual could attend a leadership workshop before they transitioned to a new role? The purpose of the workshop would help individuals get clarity on how they need to ‘step-up’ to be credible in the new role. The behaviours that helped them get to where they are in their career – but will no longer serve them well in the next role.
Career development workshops will explore the following:
- How different is the new role from your current role?
- What few behaviours and skills become super-critical to succeed in the new role?
- What are the critical relationships you’ll need to proactively manage up, down, across and out?
- What skill and capability gaps do you have AND how will you bridge them?
- Who can act as a Mentor and Coach for you?
- How will you set your successor up for success?
If you can adapt faster than the speed of change, you have a gain a compelling competitive advantage. This means everyone has to learn to become a ‘change agent and innovator’. A critical job for any Consulant is to help their clients to scale leadership.
Grow More Leaders
The predictions are we will face more transformation in the next 20 years, than the whole of the last 200 years. Even if this is partially true, it suggests change leadership will be a vital life skill for every employee. So in practical terms what does this mean?
- It means job titles and organisational structures will change every 12-18 months. We have to be ready to acquire new skills and be ready to jettison the skills that have passed their sell-by-date.
- It means we will all have to lead change from our current positions. Change is everyone’s responsibility – not just of those at ‘the top’
- It means we have to learn to be comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty. The life skill is to focus on the things we can control and to acknowledge the things we can’t.
- It means we have to be skilled in influencing up, down and across the organisation. Change becomes easier when you can collaborate with others.
Customers have more choice than ever before. They can buy from brands on the other-side of the world. Unless your brand, products or services stand out, you risk becoming middle of the road.
All of this means, customer facing colleagues have an important leadership role to play. For the following reasons:
- They are the face of your brand. A poor customer experience can go viral on social media. How customer facing colleagues consistently handle issues, will determine the flight path of your business
- Customer facing colleagues have invaluable insights on what customers really want, what frustrates them and the opportunities for innovation. Yet these are the very people who say they feel ‘powerless’, who feel under-appreciated and whose voice is rarely heard.
- Customer facing colleagues need the skills to influence middle, senior and executive colleagues. They need the confidence to challenge decisions which were made in good faith, but negatively impact the customer experience.
Leadership is about attitude, mindset and behaviour, more than position, status and position
Grow More Leaders
A few forward thinking organisations are seeing their culture and values as being their secret-sauce. So much so, they’re training colleagues at every level to become ‘Culture Ambassadors’ or ‘Culture Champions’. The role of these internal facilitators is to run problem solving workshops for teams that are facing an issue: high employee turnover, high customer complaints, or unhealthy behaviours. These ‘Culture Champions’ facilitate open conversations on what the root cause of the problem is…….what ownership and responsibility each individual has to creating a positive culture and what genuinely living the values looks, sounds and feels like. These Culture Catalysts have no formal power. But through skillful facilitation, they open up honest conversations and encourage each individual to role model positive leadership
As a Coach, Consultant or Trainer, you can build a reputation in the leadership development space by:
- Taking the top, middle and customer facing colleagues through shared experiences
- Creating a language of leadership that everyone understands
- Creating opportunities for intact teams to talk openly about the help and support they need from each other and their peers
- Helping individuals understand how leadership starts in their current role and how leadership has everything to do with mindset and behaviour and less to do with position and status
To discuss any of this further, drop me a note: email@example.com.