Case studies in leadership development only work when we learn from them. Indeed, the proverbial practice of standing on the shoulders of giants is meant for us to see off into the distance to view not just threats but opportunities to get better.
The hardest aspect of business operations isn’t expanding technology or even raising activity through the sales pipeline. The hardest aspect goes deeper than that: leadership development. As mentioned in the book, leadership development is key to turning a traditional organization into a learning organization.
Difficult and Different
When it comes to cultivating the skills necessary for great leaders to thrive, multiple permutations abound. The order of the skills has to line up to fit not just the organization but the unique strengths found in the leader. Far too often, businesses struggle with leadership development because they miss the key alignment points that bring together strong leadership candidates with a chance to bring those skills forward in a way that is orderly and within business objectives.
In short, cultivating leadership development requires understanding that the path forward is going to be difficult and different, not one or the other.
No Line Item for Leadership
Good leadership is the expectation within many companies, yet there is often no consistent system for cultivating the very leadership companies claim to crave! This disconnect is at the root of the problem: good leaders aren’t just found “in the wild”; they have to be developed like any other talent.
Companies have budgets for research and development, software upgrades, training processes, and office expansion projects, but few companies make leadership development that much of a priority.
Leadership development systems have their own pipeline concept. Emerging leaders should start at the beginning and come out with more applications for their skills than they had previously. This is a long-term approach that yields good results for the company at large, but it does require “sweat equity” and participation not just from the emerging leaders, but management as well. Assessments also play a strong role in uncovering insights.
Oiling the Gears for Success, Holistically
The most reassuring aspect of leadership development is that it has no expiration date. You can start at any time, even if the organization has been anything but a learning organization. It’s never too late to turn the ship around.
Here is the best way to get started:
- Open the floor. It is far too easy for management to simply take a proclamation approach instead of opening the floor to let the newest leaders speak up.
- Make feedback a two-way street. Not all feedback is good feedback; the best responses come from allowing honest dialogue without emphasizing hierarchy.
- Think action, not just theory. Once you receive and give feedback, what are the next steps to take real action on these observations?
- Document the journey. People assume they will remember the most important feedback, but that is not the case. Keeping a running log of observations and action steps is helpful productive, and provides an excellent way to measure progress.
- Mind the metrics. Qualitative data is wonderful, but quantitative data is equally important. What KPIs should be addressed first?
These points should serve as a starting point; the unique characteristics of your organization will undoubtedly add other aspects not covered here in this guide.
Get a Copy of Developing World-Class Leaders
Leadership deserves to become the expectation across the organization, not just a rare benefit afforded to a select few. Developing World-Class Leaders is our fully actionable guide on transforming leaders while preserving the best parts of your company’s culture. Just head over to our bookstore, fill in the form, and we will send you a copy at no charge.
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.
To receive a copy of our Leadership Competency Inventory, complete with 64 competencies, just send an email.