Spring Cleaning: A Look at Leadership Preparedness

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A business article about organizational leadership- how to identify, develop, and manage it to enhance organizational effectiveness and resilience.

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Spring Cleaning: A Look at Leadership Preparedness

  1. 1. 1 By Valerie A. Duncan, MBA, MA OD, MA Cert. Training & Development Spring Cleaning: A Look at Leadership Preparedness was originally authored and published on 5/2007, revised 9/2013 Copyright © 2006, Transform Consulting Spring Cleaning: A Look at Leadership Preparedness By Valerie A. Duncan, MBA, MA OD, MA Cert., Training & Development May/June 2007 Issue From Catalyst - PPD : A personal and professional development newsletter equipping professionals for today, tomorrow, and the future
  2. 2. 2 By Valerie A. Duncan, MBA, MA OD, MA Cert. Training & Development Spring Cleaning: A Look at Leadership Preparedness was originally authored and published on 5/2007, revised 9/2013 Copyright © 2006, Transform Consulting It’s that time of year again! Time to clear away cobwebs, change air filters, and clean out closets. It’s not so bad if you have a system in place and can see the results of your invested time. Like leadership development, a costly organizational investment but, how can the results be measured? Important components from my experience of an effective leadership development program are communication, problem-solving, learning, decision-making, maturity, wisdom, experience and coaching or mentoring. A variety of articles, books, and conferences are focusing on leadership. I believe that there are adequate individuals with leadership potential, unfortunately a great deal of them lack leadership best practices. A vital and missing component seems to be lack of modeling of appropriate leadership behavior- on a 1:1 and group basis. Additionally, role-playing appropriate and inappropriate leadership behavior is an essential component of any effective leadership program. The Center for Creative Leadership raises similar questions and comments within their leadership studies. I was motivated to focus on leadership after observing and interacting with various leaders as well as being in a leadership role myself for the purpose of learning best and undesirable practices to include in a development program. According to the SHRM 2006 Research Quarterly, there will be a leadership crisis among the 35-45- year –olds between 2006 – 2022 “Only 29% of companies reported having a formal succession plan in place.” (SHRM 2006) According to the SHRM/Catalyst 2005 Employee Development Survey Report, 78% of organizations do not analyze their return on investment of leadership training programs. (SHRM/Catalyst 2005) A larger problem seems to loom, that of the effectiveness of current and future leadership development programs. Companies are increasingly beginning to design or redesign their leadership programs and assess what components to consider as critical leadership skills and ROI measurements. After observing various leaders, I’ve concluded that there are a number of people in leadership positions who have not adequately thought about what it would mean to lead. The Random House dictionary defines the word “lead” as follows: 1. to go before or with, to show the way 2. to conduct by holding and guiding 2. to influence or induce, be in control of or command or direct, guide. Considering the definitions, what are the implications for a leadership development program? What are the implications for the high potential leaders within organizational pipelines?
  3. 3. 3 By Valerie A. Duncan, MBA, MA OD, MA Cert. Training & Development Spring Cleaning: A Look at Leadership Preparedness was originally authored and published on 5/2007, revised 9/2013 Copyright © 2006, Transform Consulting Communication Skills Are you aware of what you’re communicating? What does your body language say about you? Subtle cues in body language can be interpreted such as tone of voice, gestures, and eye contact which can affect how leaders are perceived. The chart below can be used to improve assertive body language and voice tone. Vocal and Nonverbal Behavior Communications Chart Vocal Behavior Nonassertive Assertive Aggressive Voice too soft Moderate loudness Voice louder than needed Frequent pauses Even, fluent speech Fast speech questions Declarative sentences Exclamatory Facial Nonverbal Behavior Nonassertive Assertive Aggressive Little eye contact Open, direct contact Glaring, staring Tense facial muscles (fear) Relaxed, friendly Tense facial muscles (anger) Pleading, timid look Confident, engaged look Impassive, stony look Postural Nonverbal Behavior Nonassertive Assertive Aggressive Fidgeting, wringing hands Open hands Clenched fists Hands behind back or in pockets Hands at side Finger pointing Nervous, shifting body Relaxed body position Rigid body position Learning Skills Experienced leaders understand their strengths, challenges, and are adept at working with those who possess different strengths and challenges from experiences. Isabel Briggs Myers observed that, “Leaders can learn to negotiate around their differences using questions such as:  What is important to you in our relationship?  What behaviors on my part will respect and honor what’s important to
  4. 4. 4 By Valerie A. Duncan, MBA, MA OD, MA Cert. Training & Development Spring Cleaning: A Look at Leadership Preparedness was originally authored and published on 5/2007, revised 9/2013 Copyright © 2006, Transform Consulting you?  Which of my strengths would you like to know more about?  Will you help me learn more about some of your specific strengths?   Using this approach encourages a climate of mutual respect and trust while assisting leaders in analyzing their own style simultaneously providing exposure and development of their skills to other styles.” (Briggs Myers, 2003, p.356) Leaders need to be cognizant of their own learning styles as well as the styles of others. Given the vast ways in which information can be disseminated, leaders will need to be cognizant of the variety of learning styles and be willing and able to accommodate those styles. Every exceptional leader is a learner. The self-confidence required to lead comes from trying, failing, learning from mistakes, and trying again. However, what happens when leaders fail to learn from their experiences? What then is there to pass along to those potential leaders waiting in the pipeline? What if the leader has not been given or taken advantage of life’s opportunities to develop through the experience cycle of trying- failing – learning from mistakes – trying again? According to research by the Center for Creative Leadership; findings from 3,417 emerging leaders surveyed that coaching or mentoring should be a major part of a leader’s development. The sample was divided into five generational cohorts as follows:  Silent Generation (born 1925-1945) 8% (274)  Early (Baby) Boomers (born 1946-1954) 29% (985)  Late (Baby) Boomers (born 1955-1963) 30% (1040)  Early (Generation) Xers (born 1964-1976) 30% (1021)  Late (Generation) Xers (born 1977 to 1982) 3% (90) “Overall, 88% of all respondents believe that having a mentor/coach is useful for career development. The preferred choices overall for a coach/mentor are a senior colleague (24% of all respondents), an expert in the person's field/discipline (17%), or a chosen coach (16%). Most people would prefer to choose their own coach (80%), and 88% prefer face-to-face meetings as the primary interaction medium with their coach/mentor. Most groups desire to focus on career and leadership development issues in their coaching/mentoring relationships.” (DePinto, 2003, pp. 1, 7)
  5. 5. 5 By Valerie A. Duncan, MBA, MA OD, MA Cert. Training & Development Spring Cleaning: A Look at Leadership Preparedness was originally authored and published on 5/2007, revised 9/2013 Copyright © 2006, Transform Consulting Problem-Solving Skills How do you solve problems? Leaders have a variety of problem-solving styles. Steven R. Covey offers a problem-solving method using the Principle-Centered Model. This unique approach begins with a “Whole-Person Paradigm of human nature that gives the leader an uncommon ability to explain, predict, and diagnose the greatest problems in an organization”: Synergy Personal Greatness Vision, discipline, Passion, Conscience Leadership Greatness Modeling, Pathfinding, Aligning, Empowering Organizational Greatness Vision, Mission, Values Clarity, Commitment, Translation, Synergy, Enabling, Accountability Steven R. Covey wrote, “Bring together all of your intelligence and resolve, and go to work in the spirit of Winston Churchill: ‘”To every man/woman there comes in his/her lifetime that special moment when he/she is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered a chance to do a very special thing, unique to him/her and fitted to his/her talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds him/her unprepared or unqualified for the work which would be his/her finest hour.”’ (Covey, 2004, p. 313) Problem-solving is equally about the leader’s role in facilitating the process of engagement so that organizations do not become trapped in the cycle of conflict paralysis versus movement toward solutions. Decision-Making Linda B. Jones (1995) wrote, “Effective leaders have internal anchors. Have you ever found yourself seeking the approval of others rather than relying on your own center, your foundation? Effective leaders do not seek approval from others; therefore, their actions are not based on the opinions of others.” (Jones, 1995, p.296) One example of an approach that leaders can use in their decision-making process is adopted from a portion of the Z Model which considers both content and contextual analysis as follows: Content  What are the facts?  What are the costs/benefits?  What are the consequences and alternatives?  If we step back, what’s most logical? Context  Are there theoretical models that would help?  Have we heard from everyone?  What impact will it have on those involved?  What unique perspective could we
  6. 6. 6 By Valerie A. Duncan, MBA, MA OD, MA Cert. Training & Development Spring Cleaning: A Look at Leadership Preparedness was originally authored and published on 5/2007, revised 9/2013 Copyright © 2006, Transform Consulting use to view this situation? (Lawrence & Murphy, 2006, p.67) Experience Leaders are visible and influential. Another critical part of an effective leadership development program would be modeling through role play of appropriate and inappropriate behavior. The value of a successful program can only be measured when that leader interacts with other people and applies the program’s principles resulting in positive outcomes. That is when the true test begins. Life presents abundant opportunities to apply the learning cycle of trying-failing-retry. Each time we’re exposed to similar situations, we’re given the opportunity to practice applying the knowledge we’ve gained through real life situations, thereby increasing our experiences. However, what if a leader doesn’t know how to recognize a learning opportunity in order to benefit from it? A leader must be proactive in seeking out experiences and maintaining a progress journal of what he/she has learned about him/herself. Maturity Another area of development needing focus is the area of cognitive maturity. From my 26 years of experience in the work world, I’ve observed varying degrees of cognitive immaturity. Self-awareness is key in leadership regardless of style. So, what can be gleaned from this information? One major component is the necessity of life experiences. In Johnson & Johnson’s “Joining Together- Group Theory and Group Skills”, it states, “you lead the way by practicing what you preach. You lead by example. To do so, you must be clear about your vision and values. Your actions must be congruent with your words. Leadership begins with becoming a role model that exemplifies the organization, management, values, and beliefs that are important.” (Johnson & Johnson, 2000, p.213) Leadership is much more than a title or resume booster. Leadership roles are sometimes misused to control others – masking a lack of self-control or to negatively influence producing a negative impact on others. Wisdom Wisdom is the result of the application of knowledge to life situations resulting in learnings that are shared for the purpose of teaching others, helping others to learn and grow. Wisdom is a choice. Wisdom is what develops in a leader who’s been prepared to lead through exposure to the diverse cultures and personalities to learn to respect and appreciate them. Corporations have gotten lost in a sea of resources- publications, conferences, and “how to” seminars. As businesses review their leadership programs, they should focus their
  7. 7. 7 By Valerie A. Duncan, MBA, MA OD, MA Cert. Training & Development Spring Cleaning: A Look at Leadership Preparedness was originally authored and published on 5/2007, revised 9/2013 Copyright © 2006, Transform Consulting attention on actions and outcomes rather than the branding of the resources themselves. Spring cleaning always seems to produce unused items that require rendering a decision on whether to retain or discard them. Leadership programs should also be reviewed in a similar way; retain if it’s effective and produces results and discard what is ineffective. Just as spring cleaning is a planned annual activity resulting in a more organized home where one can function more effectively, organizations can apply the same principle to their leadership development programs resulting in an increased return on human capital and capacity to compete in the world economy. References 1. Berg, D. N. & K. K. Smith , (1998), Paradoxes of Group Life- Understanding Conflict Paralysis, and Movement in Group Dynamics, p. 110, San Francisco, Jossey-Bass 2. Covey, S.R., (2004) The 8th Habit- From Effectiveness to Greatness, pp. 310 – 313, New York Free Press 3. DePinto R., (2003), Emerging Leaders Research Summary Report pp. 1& 7, North Carolina, Center for Creative Leadership 4. Emmanuel, L. & D. Stiles, (2007), Highlands Leadership Report, p. 15, The Highlands Company, Larchmont, NY 5. Esen, E., & Collison, J. (2005). Employee Development Survey Report., Alexandria, VA Society for Human Resource Management 6. Hammer, A.L., M.H. McCaulley, I.B.Myers, N.L. Quenk, (2003), MBTI Manual, p.36, Palo Alto, CA, Consulting Psychologists Press,Inc. 7. Johnson, D.W. , F.P. Johnson, (2000), Joining Together: Group Theory and Group Skills, p. 213, Boston, MA, Allyn and Bacon 8. Jones, L. B. (1995), Jesus CEO- Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership, p. 296, New York , Hyperion 9. Lawrence, G.D. & Murphy, E., (2004), The Zig-Zag Process for Problem-Solving, p.67, Gainesville, Florida, Center for the Application of Psychological Type 10. Lockwood, N.R., (2006), Leadership Development – Optimizing Human Capital for Business Success, pp. 2-10, Alexandria, Virginia, Society for Human Resource Management
  8. 8. 8 By Valerie A. Duncan, MBA, MA OD, MA Cert. Training & Development Spring Cleaning: A Look at Leadership Preparedness was originally authored and published on 5/2007, revised 9/2013 Copyright © 2006, Transform Consulting For more information about the author: Email: valerieaduncan@transformconsulting.biz Skype: 919-747-4147 Catalyst - PPD Website: www.catalystppd.wordpress.com LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/valerie-a-duncan-mba-ma-od/59/7a3/630/

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