Many business owners and managers take for granted the responsibility that comes with leading their business and their people. True leaders are more than just day-to-day managers. They lead with vision and purpose, and inspire those around them to do the same.
In my experience coaching organizations in leadership development, I’ve seen firsthand the kinds of benefits that happen when companies invest in their people’s future.
Leadership is often a blind foray of trial and error. We learn from our mistakes and adjust. Sure, there are a few “natural born” leaders out there. However, most business owners and managers can benefit from purposeful leadership development to help them capitalize on their capabilities, develop future business leaders, and attract quality customers, vendors, suppliers and employees.
Leadership development is not the same thing as leadership training. Leadership training is typically pragmatic and is used to manage day-to-day operations. The leadership development mindset is a broader, more forward-looking approach where experience, knowledge and wisdom are a springboard to developing a goal-based, purposeful leadership plan.
Here are seven ways I have found most helpful to companies in getting the best results from their leadership development efforts.
1. Start With The End In Mind
Before you start a leadership development program, you have to make sure your business has a crystal-clear vision and laser-sharp goals and objectives. This seems like a no-brainer. However, way too many companies blow right past this critical first step. As business leaders, we cannot ignore the most basic of questions:
• What do we value?
• What do we believe in?
• What do we as a business stand for?
• What positive behaviors do we want to recognize and reward?
Your answers to these questions will be unique to your business. Use them to establish your vision, goals and objectives in S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) terms. This is the “destination” that will guide your leadership efforts.
Keep It Stupidly Simple. I have to remind myself of this all the time. Leadership development must remain simple, direct, focused and on-track. For example, I used to have a Facebook FB -0.17% page (and group), a blog, website, Twitter TWTR +3.00%, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, Vimeo, and Pinterest and LinkedIn LNKD +0.05% account. As we all know, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. In order to be a successful leader, I needed a solid, well-executed social media plan and a clear vision of how every element served my business. I was like so many companies in that I was doing a lot just because others were… with no results.
So make sure you have a clear plan, and dedicate resources only to areas that are beneficial to the business. This will lead to a tremendous impact in a short time. What can you do today to simplify your leadership development efforts?
3. Keep An Open Dialogue
There is a major difference between communicating and telling. Maintaining an open dialogue is a core component of quality leadership development. Open dialog provides tremendous opportunity for clarity and improvement — both for your business and people. That means that, in addition to being able to express themselves effectively, leaders must be able to listen and understand to comprehend the value of input and respond accordingly.
4. Build, Build, Build Your People — And Then Build Some More
People are always your greatest resource — whether clients, customers, vendors or employees. Find ways to strengthen the level of trust you have with everyone involved in your enterprise. Focus on motivating, equipping, and transforming behaviors over time. Putting employees through leadership development workshops, seminars and conferences can help remotivate them, boost morale, creativity and create new opportunities.
5. It Rolls Downhill
Company culture, attitude, values, standards and ethics all come from the top down. A passionate and compassionate leader can energize an entire company just as a dispassionate, self-absorbed leader can destroy one. Set an example of cooperation, fairness, trust and openness. Focus on solutions and positivity instead of blame and backstabbing.
I promise you this: You can spend a bazillion dollars on external consultants and “leadership gurus,” and it will always come back to the leader’s approach. If you’re motivated, equipped and happy in your role, then others will follow your lead. If you come in with a bad attitude, don’t expect anything different from your employees.
6. Three Minutes Whine Time
When someone starts to whine, I allow three minutes, and then it’s done forever. After the timer is up, we move on and focus on finding a solution.
A divisive, grumbling spirit destroys morale and severely limit results. If you have people who do nothing but complain, identify them, motivate them, and if necessary, get rid of them.
7. Focus On The Future
When is the best time to plant an apple tree to get fruit? Yep, five years ago. If you truly want to drive your business to the highest level, then it’s time to start investing in leadership development today. Permanently remove the “we have always done it that way” phrase from your vocabulary, and start through companywide awareness of the goals, objectives, challenges and opportunities of your business.
The message is clear – leadership development matters. It will help you build yourself, your team, and your organization for a more successful future.
By John Hawkins
There’s been a lot of buzz about a 4-day workweek. But it will be the ‘4 + 1’ workweek that ultimately wins out: 4 days of “work” and 1 day of “learning.” Several forces are converging in a way that point toward the inevitability of this workplace future.
How can leaders help their teams combat change exhaustion — or step out of its clutches? Too often, organizations simply encourage their employees to be resilient, placing the burden of finding ways to feel better solely on individuals. Leaders need to recognize that change exhaustion is not an individual issue, but a collective one that needs to be addressed at the team or organization level.
In this article, the author describes how a concept called tangential immersion can help anyone persevere in a boring task: Through a series of studies with more than 2,000 participants, she and her coauthors found that people often quit boring tasks prematurely because they don’t take up enough of their attention to keep them engaged.