The Essence of Leadership Development

By Bill Fields

Training is the most effective process for acquiring the knowledge, skills and abilities required to perform a task or job properly and safely. The training may be technical in nature or it may focus on interpersonal or behavioural characteristics. Leadership Development incorporates all three of these attributes.

What, then, are the expectations that one might reasonably anticipate from investing time and money to support and promote Leadership Development in your organization?

I am privileged to have had the opportunity to work with a number of organizations in helping them to develop their leadership capability and capacity. Here are some guiding principles and the highlights of lessons learned.

  • Leadership Development is not an event. Rather, it forms the core platform of an organization’s culture.
  • A long-term commitment to the training initiative needs to be planned, resourced and communicated.
  • Sessions need to be scheduled on a regular basis, usually monthly.
  • Participation in training should not be optional.
  • A critical mass needs to be established in the initiative.
  • The training should be extended beyond Managers to include Supervisors and Team Leaders.
  • Activities should be highly-interactive, by combining exercises and case studies with curricula.
  • The training should have a personalized component, including individual diagnostic assessments.
  • The scope should stretch the participants’ thinking, by introducing and exploring different models, paradigms and ideas.
  • A Leadership Development initiative requires sufficient time to build trust and genuine openness amongst the participants.
  • The curricula should be designed deliberately to foster inter-departmental co-operation.
  • Leadership Development should evolve to incorporate collaborative problem-solving of business issues.

Over the long-term, organizations that commit to Leadership Development will experience and enjoy the following benefits:

  • Managers, Supervisors and Team Leaders who demonstrate more competence, confidence and effectiveness.
  • A more professional leadership team.
  • A more authentic, vibrant and harmonious leadership team.
  • A more diversified and flexible management cadre.
  • A team that shares common objectives and vocabulary.
  • Management focused on solving business issues.
  • A leadership team that can drive the organization to ever-higher performance and successful competition.
  • A leadership team that is actively committed to developing the organization’s employees.
  • A team that nurtures a culture which encourages the unleashing of discretionary effort.
  • A leadership team that promotes employee health, by reducing the level of stress within the organization.

Now is the time for your organization to seriously consider implementing a Leadership Development initiative, in order to achieve greater success today and realize a more optimistic future.

Bill Fields is president at Bill Fields Learning Systems.

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