A robust leadership pipeline is essential to any organization’s long-term competitiveness. The challenge is to sufficiently prepare your workforce to become the leaders they are capable of being.
Leadership development is key for tapping into underutilized leadership potential. When implemented correctly, leadership training can transform individual leaders and organizations. In my 20 of experience implementing key leadership initiatives—using primarily The Leadership Challenge®—I have discovered four best practices I’d like to share with you and invite your thoughts.
1) Gain agreement and sponsorship
It is essential to get agreement on goals and outcomes of programs as well as general parameters, such as time away from work and cost of program. It’s not easy or even essential to get consensus on specific content pieces. It’s critical to consult with executives early on, gain their sponsorship, and plan for high-level, visible support. It’s also a good idea to form an Advisory Board for guidance throughout the process. Be sure to include executives, program participants, and training providers.
2) Develop a process and set goals
Ask these questions. . . .What does success look like? What processes are in place to ensure that development activities (workshop, coaching, etc.) are relevant? How is it integrated into other initiatives? Is there a Development Action Plan in place? To measure progress against goals and feedback instruments such as The Leadership Practices Inventory® (LPI) are excellent tools. Aggregating the data from leaders’ reports provides an organization metrics to not only measure progress in terms of increasing frequency, but to see how leaders measure up to normative data—how frequently leaders are engaging in The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®.
3) Pay attention to pre- and post-work
Prepare leaders for the learning event. Build in assessments, one-on-one conversations, and webinars to assure their engagement at the workshop. Afterwards provide opportunities for disciplined practice and reinforce the learning. “Embodied in the book’s [The Leadership Challenge] foundational model, The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®, is the notion that leadership is not an event, but a process that requires ongoing and regular practice.” (Jim Kouzes and Bary Posner) In this regard, there are practical, daily support tools to provide leaders with post-workshop support, such as The Leadership Challenge Practice Book. Tons of stats support this, which is not easy to do, but absolutely essential for seeing transformative change.
4) Set the example
Model The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® at meetings, one-on-one, and in written communications. Your example makes your vision and values real, making the leadership development goals vision and values real. It’s tangible evidence that you are personally committed. Provide formal and informal rewards for demonstrating leadership behaviors. Celebrate small wins and enjoy the many benefits of exemplary leadership in your organization.
These are what I consider to be best practices. Do you agree? Do you have others to add?
I often hear, “We want to develop our leaders, but we have a limited budget. . . or no budget. What is the one thing we can do?”
I hear less often, “Gee, we have money and other resources to develop our leaders, what do you suggest?”
Value vs. splurge—what to do? Here are some thoughts:
Value: Self-knowledge is probably the most powerful factor in a leader making changes and developing. There is sufficient research to back up the statement that the best leaders are self-aware, and one of the best ways to become self-aware is for leaders to ask for feedback from their constituents.
If you do nothing else for leadership development, I recommend leaders get feedback on their behaviors and do some reflection. The Leadership Practices Inventory® (LPI) is one of the best tools for doing this.
Research data from hundreds of thousands of people consistently show that leaders who more frequently engage in the behaviors measured by the LPI®—in other words, The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®—are more likely to be identified as effective leaders.
Splurge: On the other hand, if there is sufficient budget to support a leadership development initiative, we can recommend proven processes and tools, above all The Leadership Challenge®. It inspires leaders to be better leaders, challenges them to make changes in their behavior, and stretches and emboldens them to try new things. Giving leaders the opportunity to learn best practices of leaders, get feedback on how they are doing compared to normative data, then providing opportunities for disciplined practice and reinforcement will fan the flames of leadership.
When you feel the urge to splurge, a myriad of options, proven to be successful, is available including workshops, assessments, action learning projects, coaching and mentoring, and webinars.
Where are you on the value vs. splurge spectrum? Consider carefully, then choose your course of action. Follow this link to find out about the options Sonoma Leadership Systems offers.