We often naturally gravitate towards those colleagues who have the knowledge, experience and confidence to point us in the right direction. And sometimes we can spot natural leaders even before they begin to engage in official leadership development programmes. How can L&D teams help in the search for, and development of leaders? This Gallup survey reveals that over 80% of the time we get it wrong, so how can we make sure we effectively develop the right people in the right way?
The 5 Ws of leadership development.
Who is a potential leader?
Who are the high performers with the suitable skills and knowledge to be a leader? When developing leadership skills, who in your organisation fits the profile? Let’s look at 3 familiar qualities that we find in our greatest leaders, and how they can be developed.
If a leader can’t be trusted, they won’t be followed. Leadership training can help people recognise traits within themselves and the way they communicate that they might not have noticed before. Leaders should be able to speak their mind plainly and frankly.
From body language to deep knowledge, leaders need to show that they know what they’re doing - and that they love it! Leaders should immerse themselves in their chosen subjects and be confident in speaking on them.
People look to leaders to inspire and empower. A leader shouldn’t necessarily solve the problems of every team member, but they should convey a sense of optimism. Leaders should be open to hearing about new challenges.
What are the pitfalls?
Organisation’s spend a huge amount of time scanning their business units in a search for leaders - and often use the incorrect criteria. Once a leader has been identified it is typically up to them to keep themselves in that sharp, inquisitive and aspirational frame of mind in the long term.
Senior managers and senior leaders may have a disadvantage, in this respect, to those that are closer to the start of their own professional path - they may have less opportunities to try out new things and to venture into unknown territory. To improve your leadership skills it may be necessary to work hard at becoming that curious ‘constant learner’.
A curious person is not only going to discover new solutions and ways of working. They are also going to question why processes are completed in the way they are, and never take anything for granted as the way it’s always been done. When you ask yourself ‘why are we working this way, what could we be doing differently?’ you give yourself the opportunity to re-align the teams goals and avoid the wrong ones.
A leader that is going to inspire followers needs to embrace the uncomfortable. It may be counterintuitive, but seeing someone cool, calm, collected (‘bossy’, if you will) in all their experiences does not attract an ambitious crowd. It might be enviable, it is certainly not inspiring. Seeing a person face difficult challenges that are new to them; innovate, struggle, and be open with their process in doing so is what’s going to spark a real change in an organisation - and make a quality leader. Read more about the issues when developing leaders, especially those not ready for the role.
Where does digital learning fit in?
Individual leaders create leading businesses. When thinking about development opportunities, we need to consider how we inspire this inquisitive edge through a leadership development program. It takes hard work and consistency to take a mindset out of the status quo. What you know already could have confirmed and cemented your leadership role, but actively learning is going to propel you to the next level.
The biggest obstacle is time management - and this is where we can bring in elearning. Outside of compliance and your traditional leader development courses, digital training has the opportunity to weave new thoughts and ideas into our day to day lives.
When implemented right, and with enough thought put into it, it can be both relevant to employees and distinct enough provoke real thought. The objective is not to set level leaders on a certain path, but to get them asking them why they feel the need to stick to the one they are on. Here we look in more detail about whether leadership can be learned.
There is no magic recipe - and so there shouldn’t be! Different people will all have a different leadership style that works, and the program should focus on developing individuality as much as specific skills. See our infographic 'How to be a leader in the digital age'.
When should leadership development programmes start?
With more virtual teams and less classroom based training, workplace structures have become much flatter. They lack the assent to the top that leaders would have experienced before, and now employees need to be prepared for leadership roles can appear at any time.
Why do companies find leadership development difficult?
According to this Harvard Business Review when referencing why companies fail at leadership development they uncovered most companies fail due to senior executives who don’t work as a team and haven’t committed to a new direction or acknowledged necessary changes in their own behavior as a key driver. In conjunction with you organisational goals, This is where we at logicearth can help.
With our Percipio platform we can help develop leadership plans which are regularly updated with the latest trends, developed by industry leaders and curated to suit learners needs, accessible on-the-go on any device through a tailored mix of videos, ebooks and podcasts.
Contact us for more information on how to keep your leaders on top of their game and create a highly skilled pipeline for leadership roles within your organisation.