Leadership Development

Lord Leverhulme once said, “I know half my advertising budget is wasted, but I don’t know which half.” Many CEOs can say the same thing about their leadership development budget. How to avoid the waste?

You can’t learn how to be a great leader in a classroom. You have to experience it; practice it.

So, when you develop leaders make the learning visceral and personally testing. Be thorough, disciplined. And assess for potential, much more than for performance.

If you think of leadership development as a process to fill a pipeline with leaders, you will focus on the process, not on the leaders.

What is a Culture of Leadership?

  • Leadership is an activity rather than a position and everyone can exhibit it.
  • Leaders take responsibility for not only their own accountabilities but also those they can influence.
  • Leaders do not ignore problems; if you walk by a problem, you just endorsed it.
  • Leaders serve others by leading; it is a noble burden, not a bestowed entitlement.
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In Context: The context is critical. Is it a one-product company? Or multi-product? Is it national or international? Is it a manufacturer or a software business? Evaluation and development should be tailored to the context.

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Build a Model of Leadership: A guide to what the organization expects of its leaders. What skills are important in the particular context, and what behaviors are to be encouraged and avoided.

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A Culture of Feedback: Being open to feedback correlates strongly with good leadership. Candid, constructive and impactful feedback has proven to be the most effective way that we learn. Leaders must be courageous enough to seek feedback and open enough to accept it when it is offered. Done well, 360 feedback is a powerful tool to promote self-awareness and leadership growth.

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Assess for Potential: The easier task is evaluating past performance. But, research shows that there is no strong correlation between past performance as a subject-matter expert and future success as a leader. Leadership potential must be contextual, but core elements should include: openness to feedback, EQ and learning intelligence.

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At Work, Not in the Classroom: Classrooms are not great places to learn how to be a great leader. Let them read the books on their own time. Then with expert guidance they practice leadership at work, solve new problems and experience the unfamiliar.

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Emphasize EQ: Leadership behavior is more important than leadership competency. The higher a leader rises in an organization, the more success is correlated with behavior and the more likely it will be that behavior is the derailer.

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Leaders Developing Leaders: It is the duty of existing leaders to imprint the culture on future leaders.

How we develop leaders

  1. Help leaders understand their impact.
  2. Maintain personal development as a top priority.
  3. Help leaders see the connection between leadership and results.
  4. Coach leaders for greater self-insight and heightened self-awareness.
  5. Increase leaders ability to reflect before acting.
  6. Conduct robust, in-depth assessments that yield insights.
  7. Provide feedback with impact and positive intent.
  8. Give specific and practical advice

The River Strength Meter: Leadership Development

Building Bad Hurt Locker Uphill Climb Benign Neglect Strong Pipeline A Tribe of Leaders

Leadership Succession Planning

Leading an enterprise is not like leading a function. Preparing a senior executive to move from a functional leadership role to an enterprise-wide leadership role requires specific development activity.

diagram of the leadership succession planning process

We use a well-honed framework for assessing the capability and potential of leaders for the most senior-level, enterprise-wide roles.

How we develop leaders

  1. Aligning the CEO and his/her Board on the profile of future leaders.
  2. Assess the readiness of executives using a combination of objective assessment tools and credible qualitative data.
  3. Create high impact development experiences that stretch executives and add value to the company at the same time.
  4. Create an in-depth picture of the C-suite pipeline for use over time by the CEO and the Board.

Leadership Assessment

For River, at its heart, leading is about an obligation to serve. Leaders affect the lives of many, and it is a role that should not be taken lightly. It comes with a heavy burden of responsibility.

Great leadership working with a poor strategy can succeed for a while, but a great strategy with poor leadership will always fail.

Strong leadership in any organization is a strategic advantage.

Leadership development is personal development. Heightened readiness for increased responsibility involves preparation, personal reflection, openness and practice.

Our approach to assessing leadership capability, and potential, depends on the context. We are certified in a range of psychometric tools and 360 instruments that we can deploy according to the situation. We are tool agnostic and use only those pertinent to the specific context. We rely heavily on our own experience and training to observe, inquire and assess individuals as well.

diagram of The River Group approach to leadership assessment

We are strong believers in 360 feedback but 360 done right and done well. Research shows that high performing leadership is correlated with the ability and willingness to listen to and act upon feedback. 360 quickly builds self-awareness.

Our 360s are both interview-based and online. They are customized to an organization’s leadership model, or are research-based generic leadership skills. Our 360s can evaluate for competence and for behavior. The higher an individual rises in an organization the more likely her success or failure will be caused by her behavior; not her skills.

Most importantly, we evaluate for potential. Learning agility is a strong predictor of leadership potential. And all organizations need a pipeline of future leaders.