Execs Should Say Yes To Leadership Development Training

It is stated that “The speed of the group is equal to the speed of the leader.”  This particular declaration tends to stay correct in many instances.  Consider sport teams, families, companies and professional organizations.  Leaders typically set the direction, build the culture, and the group responds to the leadership.  However, it’s not uncommon to see senior management and professionals lacking in the attributes many people equate with great leaders.  Repeatedly, those who work in top management jobs have attained their status by means of attaining specific crucial final results.  Even so, their way of how they achieved these outcomes might not have been “pretty!”

Many people in the organization observe this behavior and then follow suit.  Mid-level managers conclude that it is not important to learn good leadership competencies and they will model the executives’ behaviors.  As the unwanted behavior spreads through the entire organization, overall performance is adversely affected.  Revenues dip, expenses rise, and employee discontentment and turnover increases.

Companies answer by applying leadership development training.  However, oddly enough, the main focus is often on middle management.  The rationale is that middle management is involved with the most people plus they are the leaders for the future.  Executives approve this expense and guarantee that their direct reports invest time in attending leadership skills training.  But, the missing item is that the executives do not see the need to grow their leadership competencies.  Their reasoning includes:  “I am currently a leader”, “I get results’, ‘I do not have the time’, etc.  The senior management and executive group are not able to identify that they are the source of the unwanted conduct.

The task is how should an organization break the routine and have executive engagement in leadership development training if the CEO/President is one of the offenders?

Greg Swenton, CEO of Ryder, Inc. (a Fortune 500 company) stated at a Women Executive Leadership function, that he recognizes the importance of good leadership.  Ryder’s entire leadership group is measured on essential capabilities which they deem as desirable qualities inside their organization.  To reinforce their commitment all leaders are measured on their effectiveness in all these capacities in their performance assessments.

As soon as there is buy-in with the executive team to grow their leadership abilities, you can find numerous approaches to leadership development training.  Excursions, group classes, one-on-one coaching, mastermind groups, and self study programs provide possibilities to personalize training to match the organizations’ needs. 

The best outcomes tend to be realized when:

1. An integrated method is utilized:  It’s best to couple one-on one mentoring for executives that go to group classes, excursions or take personal study courses.  Most executives keep their guard up while in front of other people.  One-on-one coaching provides a ‘safe-space” for the executive.  A good number of executives see one-on-one coaching extremely informative and beneficial.

2. Executives are held accountable because of their leadership style:  Many executives are accustomed to being accountable with regard to hard line results( income, earnings, growth, etc.).  It is important the executives are also held accountable for their behaviors.  Accountability ought to be linked with compensation and advancement prospects.

3. Continuous advancement:  Recognize that having a way of thinking and culture of ongoing development will mean that some kind of continuous leadership development training should be put in place for everybody.

So in order to have powerful leadership throughout the organization, make sure that leadership development training starts off at the very top!

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