It’s not about leaders. It’s about leadership.
Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall." -Stephen Covey
Leaders play a critical role in our organizations. We need great leaders — they have a profound impact on the success of organizations. Furthermore, the pressure to identify and develop future leaders has never been more significant. We must grow leaders while recognizing, against a very different business landscape and set of demands. However, that alone will not unleash the full potential of our organizations.
Everyone needs to be a leader
Many organizations capitalize on leadership potential by identifying the “stars.” These high-potential programs enable many organizations to target the growth of small groups of high-potential leaders, often with positive results.
Failing organizations are usually over-managed and under-led." -Warren Bennis
However, as the pace of business increases, this strategy falls short. Transforming potential into meaningful business results requires far more than picking and choosing people who meet a precise profile. In today's world of constant change, organizations need to re-think their strategy and broaden their efforts to develop and unleash the full potential of the leadership talent that exists in every employee.
Leadership is about behaviour, regardless of a person’s title or where they fall in the company hierarchy. As organizations face new and unfamiliar challenges, success depends on increasing the frequency of leadership behaviour from individuals and teams across the organization to ensure that the organization can deploy the right leadership at the right moment for the proper context. So instead of redefining the criteria and isolating a small group of “stars,” the challenge is to understand and unleash the most significant source of potential: The entire workforce.
We take a holistic view of potential — beyond merely identifying leadership potential among individuals. Instead, we aim to surface, activate, and accelerate potential in every individual, within teams, and across the full force of your organization.
Ten rules for becoming a great leader
Jack Zenger is an expert in leadership development. From his writings, here are his top 10:
Ask instead of giving the answer
Don’t immediately give people the answer when they come to you with a question. Instead, ask them what they think. It’s the leader’s job to develop people. To give them the answer is to have missed a real opportunity to show that you respect them and their ideas.
Give positive feedback
Having positive interactions between you and your employees is essential. If you don’t agree with an idea, ask the idea generator to think about it and talk about how it would play out. This will force your team to think through their suggestions and see where their failings are. Remember, as a leader, you may not always be right.
When you come into your office in the morning, don’t turn on your computer until you have walked around and connected with people first. Leadership is all about motivating people, and motivating people is all about having a connection with them.
Put employees first
In every organization, there are four different constituencies: shareholders, senior managers, customers and employees. There are examples of organizations who have consciously put employees first, customers second, shareholders third and managers last. If you treat the employee with great dignity and respect, they, in turn, will treat customers the same way.
Periodically, a manager should wander around and meet with employees and ask, “Tell me something you think I don’t want to know and don’t want to hear.” It may take people a while to figure out that you are serious, but then, they will tell you. One thing managers and leaders have in short supply is the truth. Things get filtered as they go up in the organization. You have to work to get accurate data. People will tell you if you ask.
Be an example
As a leader, you are the role model, and people are watching you 24/7; you are never off-stage. If you want the organization to be sensitive to customers, you have to be responsive to customers. If you want your people to maintain good working hours, you need to keep good working hours.
If you want your organization to perform at a high level and improve over time, you have to grow over time. You need to have a personal plan of development for yourself. Doing this will provide a great example to everyone in the organization and says no matter who you are, we all can get better.
Delegate with purpose
Make sure your people know that you are not only concerned about them getting their work done, but you are also worried about them as a human being — about them growing in their career. One way to do that is to delegate an assignment and tell them the reason you’ve asked them to do the task is that it will help them and their professional development.
Set stretch goals
Nothing unites a group more than pursuing a lofty target. Try establishing setting a stretch goal for your team, but make sure it’s reasonable. If the goal is unreasonable, it can be de-motivating.
The ability to listen well is at the heart of being a good leader. Try removing distractions when you are speaking with someone, start making notes when they talk and pay attention to body language to get a real sense of their feelings. Try to listen to more than the words said, and think about the message someone is trying to convey.
How to drive remarkable leadership performance
We believe that evidence-based decisions drive long-term success. Climbing the leadership ladder is no exception.
Our new offering uses SuccessFinder’s research of 1009 high performers — split by leadership level from manager to CEOs. It identified the critical competencies at each level. Our program helps you identify your top potential employees — succession planning and talent management initiatives as well provide a basis for meaningful individual career planning one, two and three moves ahead.
Identifying the strengths and development opportunities helps individuals know if leadership roles are right for them and the necessary insights to progress up the leadership ladder. We explain the core competencies that are required by level and address the transition between levels. Using our model across your entire team uses a common language for management development. It also allows you to assemble teams with a diversity of behavioural competencies in addition to technical skills and knowledge. These teams produce better outcomes.
The research identified the two fundamental behavioural competencies that are important at every level of management — Leads Decisively and Thrives in Chaos. Specific competencies are key on more than one level as one progresses up the ladder. Some stay important through a leadership transition, and some competencies are less relevant, and therefore their demonstration must be adjusted to be an agile leader. Our roadmap to success ensure development efforts contribute to long-term success.
In the paper we share the competencies that are:
- Always On: Only two behaviours from manager to C-Suite
- Leap: “Bridging” behaviours for moving between each management level
- Lead: Unique behaviours for every stage of management
- Leave Behinds: The “once and done” list— suitable only for where you are, not where you’re going