The Problem with Leadership Development

The problem with leadership development is that everybody will agree that it is essential but nobody wants to admit that it's their leadership that needs developing!

Imagine if dentists approached you in the street and said, "Your teeth need fixing", you would likely be highly offended and unlikely to book an appointment. Dentists wait until you are in pain and come to them.

Chiropractors are more proactive in marketing their solutions. You will find them in shopping centers with two bathroom scales, offering a free health assessment. When you see that you are not balanced they offer you a package of adjustments.

In companies, the realization that leadership is 'out of balance' comes in the form of an engagement survey, from a great resignation, or loss of market share.

A New Approach to Leadership Development

As we emerge from a forced experiment in hybrid and remote work, it is essential to rethink the practice of leadership when employees have made it abundantly clear, through surveys and resignation that they no longer want to be treated like machines.

Clearly, leaders and managers must develop their human skills but they are also accountable for delivering results, and if they don't do that they are out of a job!

Many leaders and managers that I have spoken to, complain that employees have become like strawberries, easily bruised. Others use the term, ´snowflake' but this term is politically charged and so I try to avoid it. The symptoms behind these characterizations are a lack of ownership and responsibility. 

Employees, on the other hand, don't feel engaged by leadership, they feel talked at and not listened to. This is distressing because one thing the pandemic gave us was greater access to technologies to dialogue, regardless of geography or seniority.

Leadership is a Conversation

In 2020, the Chief People Officer of one of my clients asked for my help. I had worked with her Executive Leadership Team (ELT) but she wanted to cascade the leadership behaviors throughout the company and asked if I would write a book to support creating this culture.

I agreed providing that I would own the intellectual property to publish myself, and that we collaborate to make sure the book was current, relevant, and practical. She agreed, and the result was, The New Leadership Playbook: Being Human whilst Successfully Delivering Accelerated Results.

Using the sporting metaphor of a 'play', the book contains leadership principles and 12 conversations that every leader must master if they are going to be effective.

"Leadership is a conversation, a  one-to-one conversation, and a one-to-many conversation"

  • How are you going to get employees to take ownership and responsibility if you are not having that conversation?
  • Do you think having a conversation might make employees feel more engaged?

A recent survey of leaders showed that only 8% were having regular conversations using their existing digital platforms.

Balanced Leadership

To provide a healthy balance, leaders must STOP broadcasting and START having meaningful 1-to-1 and one-to-many conversations.

Leaders must be practicing self-leadership because you can't lead others unless you first lead yourself.

As a Global Leadership Speaker, I talk about this in my signature keynote speech, 'Being Human while Driving Accelerated Results' and if you would like to speak with me about working with you, or your leaders, you can contact me here.






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