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