Clearing Away the Fog to Uncover True Leadership Development

The best magician shows include lots of fog and mist to cover their intentions, but such visuals are a major deterrent to leadership development in the business world. Indeed, we know that transparency, respect, and open feedback are strong tools with respect to developing great leaders who have a passion for transforming organizations.

And yet, the fog hangs heavily over far too many companies. In order to truly grow the business, we have to clear the fog away for real leadership development.

What does that look like, realistically?

Top Leadership Buy-In

The old saying that fish rots from the head may bring rather bleak visuals to mind, but it makes sense in leadership development. As most companies build culture from the top-down, it’s wise to ensure that senior leaders embrace leadership development through a cohesive message.

  •  Is the leadership development program truly codified, or merely a vague mention here and there?
  • What’s the desired outcome related to core business objectives, vision, and long-term strategy?

  • Is there active time allotted for leadership development?

These are simply starting questions; senior leaders will need to refer back to their unique company culture to begin truly refining their in-house leadership development programs. However, this does not remove the potential for expanded results through outside coaching, consulting, and leadership development programs.

The Requirement: Truly Synchronized Actions

The best actions are often the simplest. A learning organization where leadership development is a priority has good synchrony between words and actions. Words alone are easy, but not effective.

The missing half is action: it has to line up the right actions with those paper words to create an experience that’s more than words on a screen. Senior leadership can’t merely concentrate the actions at the top either: all levels of the organization have to feel that leadership development is a certainty, not a mere possibility.

Fear or Fun?

A culture steeped in fear will never brew anything worth drinking, metaphorically speaking. Ultimately, the “tea” available in an organization is directly controlled by leadership. Senior leadership sets the tone for others to follow.

Step back and ask different questions. What would fun look like in the organization? It is quite possible to have a fun culture that is still productive, professional, and precise.

In fact, passionate, engaged, and connected managers increase their precision in a culture that has room for fun and learning because they know it’s safe to challenge themselves. They can test out new things and grow from the experience without fearing their positions in the company are as delicate as cotton candy.

Carry the Conversation Forward with Developing World Class Leaders: The Ultimate Guide to Leadership Development

Clearing the fog-covered obstacles standing between your best people and the real leadership development they deserve is not a solo effort. In Developing World Class Leaders: The Ultimate Guide to Leadership Development, the case for strategic intent is fully laid out, including real action steps to take that will clear the air and lead to a true learning organization where leaders can thrive.

Check out the book store and order a copy of Developing World Class Leaders: The Ultimate Guide to Leadership Development today.

Growth usually takes on one of two very distinct pathways: a linear path and an exponential one. The latter sounds great, right? Just pull a few levers and watch your organization reap the benefits of exponential growth, making all of your dreams come true. Wait till that next quarterly review, you’ll show them you mean business!

Except that isn’t the entire story, and consistent leadership development results are better than exponential growth that isn’t sustainable.

So why talk about exponential growth in the domain of creating better leaders in the workplace? Well, because it never hurts to have something to aspire to. It never hurts to see what can indeed happen when consistent action is scaled out. That’s the key to making leadership development a potent component in today’s fast paced business environment.

What does feedback really mean? We talk about feedback, but we know that not all feedback is created equal. Feedback should begin with empathy, which is truly understanding the other person's perspective. From there, we want to come forward with evidence that backs up the statements we're going to make to that person. Direct, professional, and straightforward is the name of the game here.

Feedback and accountability go hand in hand within the world of strategically assessing leadership strengths and weaknesses.

What Comprehensive Feedback Isn't

Sometimes it's important to highlight what something isn't before we can really start visualizing what it is constructively. If you want to build or even transform current feedback and accountability processes, here's what to avoid most:

  • Relying on one assessment. There is no perfect assessment, and it's critical to avoid idolizing any assessment as the One True Measure of performance

  • Keeping resources too narrow. This isn't about trying to use as few resources as possible. Pull out all of the tools and see what's reasonable in terms of the specific leader being refined for greater opportunities (the ultimate goal)

  • Don't settle for just covering strengths and weaknesses in terms of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Full insight requires full analysis; KPIs are just a shortcut.

Collecting quantitative data is important, but don’t skip the opportunities to collect qualitative data along the way as well. For example,

Breaking Down Strategic Leadership Assessment - The Best Path Forward for Growth

In order to get the growth needed to stay competitive, it's time to go back to the drawing board. What does strategic leadership assessment look like in action? Well, the important point is that it begins with realizing the end goal: you're getting insight into an individual's makeup and identifying what their true strengths and weaknesses are. We're going back to the 3D Leadership model as one of the key foundational points of this plan.

Staying the Course

Motivation is a big topic in the business world because we're used to watching people quit. Why do people quit before they've reached the finish line? Sometimes it's a matter of not being able to visualize the end. Or perhaps it's not having enough milestones to reflect upon as they move deeper into their journey. Not everyone will finish their leadership development plan, or approach it with enthusiasm.

Reassurance isn't a bad thing, and it can help bolster morale to the point where employees buy back in. For entry-level employees, leadership development can feel impossible because they're starting their journey with a lot to cover. For the more seasoned leader, development often takes a "been there, done that" feeling.

Dive Deeper Into Refinement With Developing World Class Leaders: The Ultimate Guide to Leadership Development

Digging into the roots of better leadership development isn’t an easy journey. Yet it is absolutely essential for companies of all sizes.

Did you miss the deep dive on assessments? Check out the Strategic View of Hiring podcast episode, Exploring the World of Assessments.

Check out the book store and order a copy of Developing World Class Leaders: The Ultimate Guide to Leadership Development today.

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