Tag Archives: Leadership Development

The Myth of Leadership Development

Developing leaders is a major strategic action for most large organizations and a multi-million dollar industry for training firms, consultants and universities. But if we have got the meaning of leadership badly wrong, much of this investment could be wasted. There are at least 3 problems with contemporary leadership theory:

1. Leaders are portrayed as occupying positions of authority over others which means that you can’t show leadership until you are in charge of people.

2. The idea that leadership is a learnable skill set fosters the impression that you can’t be a leader without training.

3. By associating leadership with emotional intelligence, what Daniel Goleman himself said is another word for maturity, the impression is created that you cannot lead until you grow up.

The bottom line is that leadership, as currently conceived, is an exclusive club for management level employees, something that those at the front line can only aspire to once they develop the relevant skills and maturity. This is a colossal waste of talent.

Dispersed Leadership and Employee Engagement

A different vision of leadership portrays it as something all employees can do. Certainly, the claim “not everyone can be a leader” is most definitely true when the focus is on what it takes to be a senior executive or even a front line manager. However, when leadership is defined simply as promoting a better way, then all employees who take a stand on any job-related issue, even in a very local, small scale manner, can show leadership to their colleagues and upward to their bosses. Because being a leader is glamorous, all employees can feel more engaged and motivated if they can see themselves as leaders even if they don’t manage anyone. So-called informal leadership means something different – informally taking charge of a group. Simply promoting new directions has nothing to do with being in charge, formally or otherwise, of a group of people.

Examples of Leadership Re-defined

” When Martin Luther King Jr. influenced the U.S. Supreme Court to rule segregation on buses unconstitutional, he had no managerial authority over that organization.

” When the Sony employee who influenced top management to adopt his proposal for PlayStation, they did not report to him.

” A new customer service employee might set an example of a better way of serving customers without being in charge of anyone.

” Whenever you influence your boss to think differently you have had a leadership impact on that person.

None of these examples entails managing the people on whom the leadership impact was felt. The leader sells the tickets for the journey and we need to upgrade our concept of management to take

care of driving the bus to the destination. Of course, further injections of leadership might be required enroute to resell the merits of the journey, but the bulk of the work in getting there requires good management skills. Management needs to be reconfigured as a nurturing, empowering and facilitative function, not just a mechanically controlling one.

Executive Development

What really gets developed in so-called leadership development programs are rounded executives. The truth is that leadership, conceived as challenging the status quo and promoting new directions, is based on youthful rebelliousness, something that is not a learnable skill set. When front line employees with no subordinates stand up for their ideas, they are showing leadership to the broader organization. So-called leadership development programs actually turn employees who are already leaders into managers. This is no bad thing. Organizations need good managers.

This view stands the conventional picture on its head: it is the front line knowledge workers who are the real leaders in organizations, not their managers. Of course, executives can also show leadership, whenever they too promote a better way.

The Benefits of Redefining Leadership

The main benefit is making it clear that all employees can be leaders and that, to do so, you don’t need all the skills associated with being in charge of people. You just need a good idea and the courage to defend it. Further potential benefits include better motivation and engagement of all employees, more innovation and front line ownership, better talent retention and less pressure on senior executives to show all the leadership a complex organization needs.

Why Make the Shift?

Leadership is based on power, traditionally the power of personality to dominate a group. This may still work in politics and public sector organizations but in businesses that compete through rapid innovation, the important power is the ability to generate new products and processes. In a war of ideas, leadership should mean the ability to successfully promote new ideas. So, the reason for making the shift in how leadership is defined is simply that the world is changing from one of stable, physical work to one of dymanic mental work.

See http://www.leadersdirect.com for more information on this and related topics. Mitch McCrimmon’s latest book, Burn! 7 Leadership Myths in Ashes was published in 2006. He is a business psychologist with over 30 years experience of leadership assessment and executive coaching.

Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/expert/Mitch_McCrimmon/79532


It’s Time To Rethink Leadership Development: Building Momentum For A Leadership Culture

Leadership excellence is fundamental to the health and performance of an organisation. Leadership development, however, in most cases is a costly affair. It therefore warrants careful consideration of what organisations hope to achieve when they invest in leadership development. If the point of departure is to help people excel as highly competent individuals, then the criteria for a development programme would be different from one where the goal is to grow people in order to achieve more with and through others – in other words true leadership and teamwork.

Changing perceptions and expectations of leadership

Times change and so do the perceptions and expectations of leadership. If we lived in ancient times when progress meant territorial dominance and hard, hand-fought victories on the battlefield, we would be looking for strong, brave and imposing men with some ability to out-think the enemy. If we lived in the industrial age we would be looking for superior scientific minds. As the world became more ordered, specialised and hierarchically structured in governments, institutions, business and many others types of organisations; technical or functional ability and political astuteness (skilful in tactics and power play) allowed many to rise to the top and thus be recognised as leaders. In this scenario, leadership is typically exercised through command and control complimented by concomitant tactics of intimidation and manipulation. Unfortunately, there are far too many examples with this type of leadership and organisations may be stuck in this old mindset.

Instruments of power

Where command and control still delivers results, the people have resigned themselves to the idea that they are fundamentally either stronger or weaker instruments of power – in some cases they paint themselves powerless for life, in others they believe they are untouchable and as a result often ruin their personal relationships. They fear or respect power for the sake of power. Where those at the top embrace the culture — and why would they not if they were successful in and beneficiaries of it — they will more likely than not, consciously or unconsciously, further entrench this culture through the choices they make on training and development. It does not bode well for the future in a world where optimum learning, flexibility and responsiveness are such important factors for success.

The cost

The cost for organisations, and more specifically, when the leadership are poorly aligned with societal changes is immeasurably high. Today’s knowledge worker commits themselves when they experience the freedom to be creative and enterprising. In a command and control environment they feel inhibited and frustrated; the result being untapped potential. Moreover, people in such an environment often withhold critical information which ultimately comes at a cost to the organisation.

Another cost factor is that employees who are not intrinsically motivated but prepared to submissively and passively ‘sit out’ their careers for the sake of a salary cheque, are nowadays difficult and expensive to get rid of. The longer we have command and control environments (as it is experienced by the common worker, since it is seldom acknowledged by the leadership), the more disengaged people will become. Progressive organisations, understand what is required of a modern-day leader, and are quickly pulling away from their counterparts who continue to practice the archaic command and control tactics.

The key shift

Who do we regard as good leaders? Who is climbing the ladder to higher positions of authority and power? Who gets the benefit of the doubt when it comes to filling leadership positions? Is it not those with a strong knowledge base as reflected in their academic qualifications and other certificates? Is it not those with technical know-how and management experience? And is it not those who have demonstrated the ability to use their positional power to get quick results? We believe these are the three criteria most people have in mind when they consider candidates for leadership positions. Whoever fits the bill, can be forgiven if he or she feels superior to the rest. The combination of high intellect, know-how, tactical skill and a robust ego is a powerful one. It is almost inevitable that the leadership challenge ends up to be no more than a battle of wits and ego’s in budget, planning and strategy sessions. Teamwork, the key to success, suffers as a result.

How would leadership development programmes be of any use for the above? If it means another qualification to go on the manager’s CV, more ideas, theories, models and arguments for the meeting room, and perhaps some insights that could improve personal effectiveness, then it will fit the requirement well. But the question that needs to be asked above all is: what is the value for the organisation as a whole? What is the positive influence on those who work with the leader, their morale, energy, focus, productivity, willingness to take responsibility, innovativeness, and own leadership development? Furthermore, what are the ethical and governance values being driven by the organisation and its leaders, and do management support these? And then, what are the positive changes that others see in terms of the manager’s willingness to sacrifice for the cause, openness to feedback, team-orientation, his/her courage to name the real issues that prevent growth in the organisation, and work towards much needed transformation?

i. Culture eats strategy for lunch

The observation is widespread that in spite of various leadership development initiatives, the change that matters most, invariably does not take place. In others words, a change of leadership culture is required and is not being done. More sophisticated strategies, better designs, and the latest performance management tools or tactics to out-maneuver the opposition, can never achieve what a strong leadership culture can. What most people in ‘unhealthy organisations’ secretly or openly hope to see, is a change of heart in their leadership.

The reason for poor or inadequate performance in organisations very seldom is lack of knowledge, skills or experience. Rather, it is to be found in the leader’s lack of attention to behavioural aspects, the general climate, and the alignment in the organisation. When leaders really concern themselves with the character of their organisation, they forget about their ego concerns and personal agendas. To use an analogy from the sports world, we know that when we are in agreement that the team showed character it also means they gave their hearts for the team and the greater cause. Poor character is when a team member puts his own interests before those of the team.

Leadership development for our times need to be in the areas of awareness, ‘inner work’ (self-mastery) and context-sensitive leadership responses.

ii. Awareness

It is to state the obvious that heightened levels of awareness is needed for real change in mindset, attitude and behaviour. As the emotional intelligence expert Daniel Goleman points out, self-awareness forms the cornerstone for awareness of others, self-regulation and regulation of inter-personal relationships. As obvious and simple as it seems, it is not a given. As a starting point it requires openness, vulnerability and humility to grow in self-awareness. With the ‘chips’ of knowledge, experience and positional power on one’s shoulder, the tendency is very high to filter out signals that might be damaging to the ego.

The three main areas for awareness are personal disposition and disciplineadaption to and need for change, and relationships. The defining, breakthrough moment that leads to heightened awareness and sets ‘inner work’ in motion, often is the understanding that the use of outside help — typically from family members to friends, colleagues, books, coaches and mentors — is not a sign of weakness, but of becoming more authentic and mature.

iii. Inner work (self-mastery)

Awareness is one thing, but challenging conversations with oneself is another. As all exemplary leaders will testify, the ‘make or break’ in their growth as leaders were the challenges they put to themselves in response to the challenges they experienced from the outside; be they tragedies, major disappointments, lack of results, personal attacks on them, honest but hurtful feedback or overwhelming responsibility. Sometimes ‘inner work’ demands nothing short of a deep and painful ‘inner journey’ – going back to unresolved issues and unhealed pain of the past. But most of the time it is nothing as dramatic as that, but being intentional and committed to grow as a person and a leader in all the many wonderful facets of being human.

iv. Context-sensitive leadership responses (use of inner wisdom)

Key to leadership and leadership development is the ability to respond appropriately and more wisely to all kinds of situations. That is why awareness and inner work is so important. To think that reading textbooks will help the leader to do the right thing or minimise damage is shortsighted. Leadership in its proper sense is authentic, spontaneous and from within. Whatever knowledge the leader comes across, it needs to be internalised to make any real and meaningful difference. A leader that has grown out of the command and control style learns the critical importance of adjustment. For instance, to be forceful, courageous and bold is important in leadership. But the context determines when it is appropriate and most effective. Bright ideas at the wrong time or with an insensitive presentation in a particular context can be totally counter-productive. The key to becoming wiser is to consciously and intentionally keep all channels of feedback and learning op en. When we are open and receptive to our environment and to others, our eyes ‘open’ to the wisdom that we have within but never allowed to guide us. It is at the point where we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, not all- knowing and self-important, that we rise to new levels of understanding and insight.

From a leadership development perspective, it is much more effective to explore leadership responses in conversation with others who share the same context (facing their ‘real world’) than listening to leadership theory in a lecture room. It is a common complaint that the good and lofty ideas in the lecture room come to nothing the moment a person is back at the office facing ‘the real world’. It is different when leaders in a development programme support each other by sharing their leadership thoughts and questions as they face the challenges before them.

For healthy workplace and social structures to thrive, leadership development should facilitate growth in the areas of awareness, ‘inner work’ and context-sensitive leadership responses. As illustrated below, in many cases a shift in thinking about leadership development from an outdated paradigm needs to take place.

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Engineering Your Leadership

Creating a multidimensional approach for successful leadership development is increasingly becoming a challenge in industries facing significant change. In my healthcare career, I have seen a great deal of shrinkage in the services healthcare centers and facilities offer. Just as consistent, administrative teams are reducing the expenditures of programs surrounding areas of staff development, both in a professional approach (such as for leadership) and a skills approach (OJTs). Leadership development is being left to minimal involvement with a growing focus on books, webinars, websites, assessments and articles. These things are great, so long as they are structured in a manner that strategically develops leaders.

When considering the topics of leadership development, there are a few core areas that should be reviewed. First, and foundationally, is leadership research. The focus and study of leadership research reveals a history of evolution of thought and approaches to leadership development. This includes strengthened assessments and models over time, as well as analyses on what successful and effective leaders have regarding traits, skills and behaviors.

As leadership research is broken down, the study of leadership styles can provide leaders with a great deal of information as they analyze their own leadership styles while considering the characteristics of other styles. This opens up expanded views and provides education to the leader on how to expand their own style. A lot of focus in leadership styles is centered on answering the question of ‘what style makes the most effective and successful leader’. Frankly, there isn’t a magic bullet style; it’s situational and individually based, which flows naturally into the next element of study in leadership development. Effective leaders have the finely tuned ability to apply situational leadership and contingency approaches, based on the situation, environmental variables, followers and tasks. The models in this area provide leaders with a pragmatic approach to the various situations that are frequently faced.

The next critical area of review for leadership development is understanding followers and employees. The key is to be able to identify follower and employee types, as well as understanding what traits, behaviors and characteristics that effective employees and followers possess. Understanding these items is like looking into a crystal ball; you can more accurately predict the likely success and struggles of an employee and/or group of employees.

The last, most critical, element is the alignment and optimization of the leader with the variables above. If a leader is able to develop the skills, traits, characteristics and behaviors of effective leaders while also developing their own leadership style, the leader’s development is immensely advanced. Stepping beyond these items, applying situational leadership gives the leader an entirely new level of transformative leadership through the ability to respond and effectively lead in rapidly changing environments. When you couple this with the understanding of individual follower and employee dynamics, the leader becomes deeply aligned with an effective leadership approach that is applicable in any environment. A great tool to address these areas is The Optimized Leader, as it is developed around these very topics, strategically structured to answer the challenges leaders face with a key approach: it applies to all leaders, individually more than (versus) all leaders, collectively.

Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/expert/Dr._Hesston_L._Johnson/1372491


Leadership Development Can Spell the Difference Between Company Survival and Failure

Technology and globalization have brought new and profound challenges never before seen in the corporate world. Companies built through decades of strong market domination crumble in just a matter of months, or weeks even. Emerging issues in politics and religion, disparities in population trends, even destructive weather patterns that are increasingly unpredictable – all these have a huge impact on corporations across the world, regardless of their core competency. The challenges are complex and daunting but one singular idea is fast gaining ground – leadership development is a secure solution to ensure company survival.

Management Versus Leadership

Many people often make the mistake of equating management with leadership when, in fact, these are two completely different concepts. Management is a function of processes and systems and how well they are used to maintain quality or achieve tangible targets. Leadership, on the other hand, is management and so much more.

A manager is defined by his authority vis-à-vis those above and below him in the whole corporate hierarchy. A leader is defined by his relationship to a group of individuals who willingly submit themselves to be his followers. Management depends on acquired skills but leadership relies on more abstract qualities such as behavior, trust, and inspiration. This makes leadership development about more than teaching market theories or communication skills.

Leadership Skills

Some people seem to be born more charismatic than others and are thus theoretically predisposed to leadership but this is not necessarily true. Leadership is much more than charisma, it is the ability to rise up to challenge. Regular people have been seen to rise from the ranks to emerge into a formidable leader. This continually happens regardless of educational background, gender, age or type of business but one thing is common among them – an unmistakable motivation and single-mindedness to bring their team towards a goal.

But can leadership skills be acquired just as management skills can be acquired? With the right specialized leadership development yes, it is possible to teach leadership skills including:

1. Listening. A good leader gains loyal following because he is perceived to understand the concerns of his teammates as well as their goals. Listening is tuning in and being keenly observant of the dynamics within and outside of the workplace.

2. Strategic Planning. Successful leaders know how to anticipate issues even before they arise and are able to maximize the company’s resources to resolve them. Leadership development centers on enhancing critical thinking beyond traditional management theories and practices.

3. Team Building. A good leader builds the company’s strength around its human resources. She does not take credit for successes but acknowledges that any achievement is always a result of a cohesive organization.

4. Management and Communication. Needless to say, a good leader must be well-informed about the company’s vision, objectives, and procedures to ably steer the team in the right direction. He should also effectively communicate these down and across the line so that everyone understands and works together.

5. Adaptation. The current corporate world is so dynamic it is easy to get lost in the complexities of issues and challenges. Sticking to traditional solutions will guarantee failure so an effective leader must be flexible and adaptable. She must be able to think out-of-the-box and turn difficulties into opportunities.

Leadership development requires specialized training to help future leaders realize their potentials. Professional development companies offer leadership training workshops to businesses who want to create a pool of leaders within their ranks. With the company’s survival at stake, it is important to match the challenge of the times with good leaders who can help you achieve your company’s overall goals.

Rob Jackson is President of Magnovo Training Group, a soft-skills training company focusing on corporate team building, classroom training and leadership development. Rob has been a speaker and trainer for over 20 years specializing in effective leadership, personality profiles, relational sales training, executive presence and team building. He has served as President and Chairman on several Executive Leadership boards. In addition to being a Certified DiSC Trainer, Rob has logged hundreds of instructional classroom hours. For more information please visit http://www.magnovo.com.

Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/expert/Robert_C_Jackson/283640


5 Steps to Developing Your Leadership Potential

Leadership development is defined by Wikipedia as “any activity that enhances the quality of leadership within an individual or organization.” As one might expect from this definition, what constitutes leadership development is highly dependent upon the definition of leadership. We define leadership as follows:

Leadership occurs when one person determines, undertakes, and sustains a favorable and/or productive direction and others follow. It’s not the nature of the direction that determines leadership; it’s the presence of a direction and the existence of a reciprocal relationship between leader and follower.

From this perspective the two primary things that one must develop in order to become a leader are the ability to “determine, undertake, and sustain” a direction and the ability to attract and hold followers. That these are the two main factors in leadership development is nothing new. What is new is our belief that the way one perceives the world determines a great deal of how and in what types of directions one chooses to lead, and how one attracts and holds followers.

While most leadership development focuses on the most obvious and popular definitions and descriptions of leadership characteristics, at Your Talent Advantage we take a different approach. We identify six distinctly different leadership profiles. Each leadership profile supports a set of natural leadership skill potentials that “belongs” to it.

Developing leadership skills is a process that at the macro level is the same for any of the six leadership profiles. But while the process is the same, the specific content – what skills and behaviors are to be developed – changes depending on which profile is being developed. In addition, the type of activities used to develop the skills chosen with each person must be customized based on their specific circumstances. This is true even for people who share the same leadership profile and who need to develop the same skill. This is because no two people will be in the same place in terms of their development nor will their life circumstances be identical.

Everyone has the innate potential to lead, but obviously not everyone undertakes the efforts necessary to turn potential into behavioral skills. While each leadership profile describes a distinctly different type of leadership that varies in approach, values, focus, communication, strengths, and blind spots, each represents an expansion of an individual’s skill that has gone beyond the scope of personal development.

To be a leader requires that an individual step beyond an understanding of themselves and a claiming of their own natural skill base. Development beyond the individual level is what leadership development is about. As such people who aspire to leadership or who represent themselves to others as leaders are held to a “higher standard” than those who do not seek leadership. For this reason, the five skills that all highly effective leaders must develop require more from an individual than other types of personal development. An effective leader must not only understand themselves, but must understand others as well. They must know the skills and blind spots of others, not just their own, and they must be able to adjust and accommodate their behavior to the multitude of differences between themselves and their followers while not losing the distinct leadership profile that makes them effective.

Effective leadership development is driven by these five universal leadership skills. Each builds upon those that come before it, and an individual’s skill as a leader increases as each is developed.

It is these five skills that drive leadership development:


  1. Leaders’ build on their natural strengths.
  2. They are aware of their limitations, and seek input from people with perspectives different from their own.
  3. They are aware that any group of followers contains people who see the world differently than they do, and they find ways to communicate effectively to each of them.
  4. They recognize the talents of others, and seek to build teams based on complementary skill sets and perspectives.
  5. They learn to accept/own their natural limitations and develop techniques to mitigate them.


Each of these skills and how to apply them will be discussed individually in a series of five articles.

Gary Jordan, Ph.D., has over 32 years of experience in clinical psychology, behavioral assessment, individual development, and coaching. He earned his doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology – Berkeley. He is co-creator of Perceptual Style Theory, a revolutionary psychological assessment system that teaches people how to unleash their deepest potentials for success. For more free information on how to succeed in life and business doing more of what you love, visit http://www.YourTalentAdvantage.com.

Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/expert/Gary_M._Jordan/22166

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