Managing Leadership Development

Leaders come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes, and even the term ‘leader’ means different things to different people.  So, what will the successful future leaders of your organisation look like and how will you nurture the required capabilities today?

Will they need to be the best technicians?  The best strategist?  Or do they need to be our ‘people’ people?  Perhaps it’s all of the above.  Many organisations we work with for the first time have not yet defined what capabilities and styles their leaders need to exhibit.  It’s hard to take responsibility and be accountable for success if the expectations and ‘rules of the game’ are not clear.

What’s very clear to however is that the impact leaders have on their teams is one of the primary factors in how people ‘experience’ their employment.

Yes, pay and benefits are very important and many other things are too – but the relationships people have within their organisations, and particularly their boss, can override dissatisfaction elsewhere to a certain degree but also undermine what might otherwise be a great employment proposition.

Why Develop Leadership Capability?

A study by the Corporate Leadership Council found that the most engaged workforces realise 20% better performance levels and find that employees are up to 87% less likely to leave.

Their research also posits that the ‘manager’ or leader has the single most important impact on employee engagement – by acting as an enabler.  Leaders, through their behaviour, actions and interactions, have the power (whether they want it or not!) to dramatically impact employee engagement levels which in turn is a primary driver of performance.

And there lies your business case for investment in leadership capability – if your organisation gets it right, there will be a tangible impact on organisational performance.

  • Employees who are most engaged perform better and are much less likely to leave.
  • The most important driver is a connection between an employee’s job and organisational strategy.
  • The “manager” is most important as the enabler of employees’ commitment to their jobs, organisations and their teams.

For a greater insight and best practice principles click below for further reading.

Building an Effective Leadership Framework

Creating a Leadership Framework

Before you try to decide what leadership training and development solutions your people might benefit from we recommend establishing a structured framework that sets out what it all means for your organisation.  The objective is to drive alignment between your leader’s behaviours, culture and activity and the goals of the organisation.  You should aim to give people a clear connection between their role as a leader and the organisation’s plans and priorities.

We believe any HR and people-related strategies should be designed to support specific business outcomes – and your Leadership Framework is no different and should be developed with these objectives in mind if it is to be effective.

Leadership Culture

Leadership Culture

The leaders shape the organisational culture around them – it’s a by-product of what people understand to be important – which itself is based on how they see the leaders behave.

Leadership Structure

Leadership Structure

Our Leadership Structure recognises that styles may need to vary according to the differing types and nature of roles within the organisation.  Establishing a clear structure provides clarity and enables a more targeted approach to leadership development.

Leadership Styles

Leadership Styles

Daniel Goleman’s ‘Leadership that Gets Results’ found that leaders use six differing styles.  Each is useful and effective in some circumstances and situations and also likely to be counterproductive in others.

Leadership Capabilties

Leadership Capabilties

The Leadership Capability Framework establishes the critical skills and behaviours required of our different types of leaders – providing a platform for hiring, development and performance management.

Prepare to Change

Having established your leadership framework it is likely that you’ll identify a gap between the current approaches and a need to change practices and behaviours in some way.  We recommend engaging your key stakeholders in a review of the current state to start the change journey.

Considering how well the current arrangements support the future needs of the organisation or business unit provides clarity in regard to the need for change whilst at the same time providing great input to the design process.  Below are example high gain questions to be explored with organisational leaders.

  • What does success look like for your business (in say 3-5 years)?
  • What are the critical business goals and key challenges facing the business in the short to medium term (one, two and three years)?
  • What will differentiate the business from its competitors – i.e. what will give the business a distinct competitive advantage (‘core business competency’)?
  • What are some of the key performance measures of your business, both financial and non-financial?
  • Does your business have the systems and processes in place required to effectively measure performance?
  • What are the critical capabilities and behaviours required for your leaders to be successful?
  • In which areas of your organisation will move from good to great have the most significant impact?
  • How would you describe the ideal customer experience in the future? How does that differ from the present?
  • To what degree do you believe the existing leadership capabilities and practices support these future needs?
  • What could be improved and what elements should be retained?  What is the level of urgency surrounding the need for change?

Holding Crucial Conversations

Having the ability, and preparedness, to hold crucial conversations can be the key to leadership success – but with high stakes, strong emotions and opposing views they are an art to master.

Take the time to help leaders explore what it is that makes a conversation crucial, what they might look like in your organisation, and how best to approach them.  We also recommend working with leaders to consider the cost of avoiding crucial conversations and instinctual behaviours that might be getting in their way when it comes to achieving effective outcomes.

You may also want to take a close look at communication including the unspoken ‘words’, how your leaders can engage in active listening and also think about the subtle arts of body language during crucial conversations.

Building Effective Leaders

Being a great leader takes deliberate focus and effort and is certainly more than can be bestowed by a position title. Whilst historically, great leaders were often characterised by a ‘laundry list’ of competencies, we believe there is more that goes into becoming a great leader than aiming to ‘mimic’ said list.

Having worked with numerous leaders across a range of sectors, in our experience we believe great leaders possess the attributes shown below.  It is around this thinking that our Measure – Map – Move approach to leadership development arose.

  • Own their Leadership. This means taking responsibility for their leadership journey, their development, their wins and their losses. If we own it, we are far more likely to want it to succeed, and in this way, intrinsic motivation is boosted.
  • Are Self-Aware. Before one can be a great leader, one has to have a certain level of self-awareness. They understand their natural styles, tendencies and preferences borne out of nature and nurture. They have a clear self-concept but also understand how they are perceived by others too.
  • Self-Author. Whilst great leaders may share common traits, no one-size will fit us all and no one-size will fit every situation. Good leaders determine what great leadership looks like for them and how this might vary from time to time.
  • Self-Reflect and Self-Challenge. Great leaders regularly self-reflect and challenge themselves to sit back and think about what more they can do to be better even when they think they’re doing well already.

Measure the Leaders Style and Impact

A good leader is open to and actively seeks quantifiable insights into who they are and how well they’re doing.  We recommend working with leaders to help them better understand their in-built tendencies, their self-efficacy levels and the perceptions others have of them.

In order to be a good leader, it’s helpful to start with a solid understanding of personal style by way of psychometric assessment.

The two activities noted below will not only help your leaders understand their in-built tendencies and how they are perceived by others but also give any coach assigned to them a great initial understanding of the individual.

Personal Profiling

Personal Profiling

We believe that a sound awareness of one’s own performance and capabilities is critical to developing an effective personal development program.   Proven to be valuable when establishing a meaningful personal development plan where behaviour is the focus (as opposed to technical capabilities).

360 Degree Feedback

360 Degree Feedback

Compared to traditional means of measuring performance and capability, 360º feedback provides a richer, more balanced view, helps staff to better understand performance expectations, guides learning and development and improves self-awareness.

Self-Efficacy Assessment

Self-Efficacy Assessment

Most accepted theories of motivation acknowledge that an individual’s belief in their own ability to achieve a certain outcome has a significant impact on both motivation and persistence – which in turn have a major impact on performance.

Employee Engagement

Employee Engagement

For over decade Mastertek has assisted clients of all shapes and sizes through the process of employee engagement across a host of different organisational development initiatives.

Map the Leaders Journey

Great leaders act with purpose which requires them to map their optimal leadership journey.  Here your aim is to help leaders identify what great leadership looks like for them.  A great way to achieve this is through guided self-mapping sessions which allow the leader to be the ‘author’ of their own leadership story.

Informed by measurement insights, leaders work to understand who they want to be balanced with ensuring they remain authentic and continue to meet the leadership needs of their organisation as set against the backdrop of the organisation’s culture and strategic goals to ensure alignment.  Some of the key considerations when undertaking a self-mapping exercise might include:

  • Who you are as a leader?
  • Who you need to be as a leader (to be successful in your role)
  • Who you aspire to be as a leader.

Commit to Moving Forward

Having mapped out where each leader wants and needs to be and with an understanding of where they are now, the leader, with the right support, can begin to gain momentum towards their vision of their ideal.

Leaders who set effective goals are far more likely to achieve success.

Effective goal setting helps to distil larger ambitions into manageable tasks and plot a path towards success.  When a goal is effective, it will motivate your activities and allow you to track your progress and celebrate your wins.

Effective goal setting helps to distil larger ambitions into manageable tasks and plot a path towards success.  When a goal is effective, it will motivate your activities and allow you to track your progress and celebrate your wins.

In order to identify where you would like to focus, consider your current leadership challenges and those leadership capabilities where you have the most room to improve.  Then consider which of these you have the greatest internal desire to achieve short-term growth in; in this way, you will ensure a level of intrinsic motivation.

In terms of development activities, it’s absolutely critical to think beyond the traditional forms of education.  The Centre for Creative Leadership has produced a wealth of researching highlighting the most effective forms of learning which is encapsulated in their 70:20:10 model for effective learning.

Keep Things SMART

Once you have selected your broad focus areas, you should establish detailed goals. Your goals should adhere to the SMART Principle.  SMART goals bring structure and purpose to your intentions.

  • Specific;  Make sure your goals are well defined and unambiguous. This may mean you have to set out a series of incremental activities in order to reach a bigger goal.  Specific goals provide more direction and motivation than vague statements.
  • Measurable;  Predefine criteria for measuring progress and success.  Without a measure of success, it’s impossible to know how you’re tracking or when you have reached your destination.
  • Achievable;  Goals are most motivating when they strike the right balance between being challenging yet achievable.  Include a little bit of stretch in your goals but not so much that you feel overwhelmed and therefore demotivated.
  • Relevant;  Goals should be relevant to your desired leadership destination.  Ensuring they are founded on AlburyCity’s Leadership Framework and your own 360-degree feedback will assist.  However, it’s important that the areas you choose to focus on also resonate personally with you; try to identify which areas you feel most compelled to improve in.
  • Timely; All goals should have a clearly defined timeframe for completion.  Without one, you may find yourself lacking the necessary motivation to get started.

Let’s assume you identify Developing Direct Reports as a broad area for improvement.  Looking at your 360-degree feedback results, you notice there is room to better understand the career goals of each of your direct reports.  This understanding and career support is something you value receiving from your own leader so you choose to prioritise it as a key goal for yourself.   You could write your goal like this:

“I will hold more frequent development discussions with my direct reports in order to understand their career goals.”

Instead, you could choose to be SMART about it and instead write this: “Once every three months, commencing in March, I will meet for one hour with each of my direct reports to hear about their career objectives and understand the skills/capabilities they would like to develop.  By the end of quarter one, I will have established a register to capture my understandings. This will be shared with each direct report at least bi-annually to ensure my understanding is correct and remains current.”

Embedding Your Leadership Model

Once your leadership development framework is established it’s crucial that the principles of effective leadership are embedded across your broader people and culture related processes.  Read our guide to managing executive performance reviews and check out some of the other ways in which leadership performance can be reinforced throughout your people practices.

  • Recruitment & Selection & Onboarding; Updates to position descriptions, position adverts, interview questions and the orientation programs.  Alignment with any existing behavioural based recruitment approach
  • Performance Management;  Performance Plans should include the relevant Leadership Capabilities, which might appear along with the various management objectives as part of a comprehensive Performance Plan.
  • Future Leaders and High Potential Employees;  Introduction of a Talent Assessment process where supervisors are encouraged to discuss each employee’s career aspirations and explore their potential to achieve them along with the potential development activities that they might undertake.
  • Succession Planning; High-performing organisations consistently demonstrate an ability to nurture talent and promote from within.  As well as being a critical risk management activity, succession planning and personal development pathways are also key requirements for ongoing employee engagement.

Knowing where to start when managing leadership development can be difficult – we’re here to help.

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