Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Building Leaders

Wanted: Leader-builders. This is the title of an article I ran across while preparing for a workshop. The article is based on the book The Leadership Dilemma: Seven Leadership Challenges Facing Organizations. Here are 7 leader-builder principles:

1. An unusually strong vision of their futures.

To get people to support an idea or get behind a change, they must be able to “see” where they are heading. The authors point to an example of Shell South Africa. The organization spent time and devoted resources to developing a mission and vision.

They created “a common language of change” (Koonce, Miles, Yearout 2000). This allowed for all in the organization to understand the mission, how their work impacts the business strategies on a daily basis, and how the company benefits from the new direction.

2. Executives and managers in leader-builder display remarkably consistent behaviors, regardless of their level in the organization.

Consistency “fosters trust and telegraphs a powerful message...” The article suggests that the 360-degree assessments are a great tool to use on the road to building consistency within an organization.

3. There’s a strong emphasis on the continuous development and replenishment of the leadership talent pool and pipeline.

I’m a huge fan of Notre Dame’s football program. Over the last two seasons, the program has not lived up to expectations. Critics suggest the coach hasn’t done enough to develop the younger players.

They point to coach’s play only the best players attitude resulting in little playing time for the younger players. On the field and in business, people learn better when they get assignments – small or large.

4. There’s a strong emphasis on the identification of specific leadership competencies to support current and emerging mission and strategy.

Knowing what effective management looks like is very important. (Koonce, et al., 2000) says, “the concept often takes the form of a set of guiding principles or values that guide the identification, selection, and training of leaders at all levels.”

5. There’s strong, strategic alignment.

The development of leaders should be aligned with the strategic plans of the organization.

6. High degree of team unity at the senior level.

To ensure initiatives are successful, teamwork is required.

7. Strong commitment to continuous organization renewal.

For this to happen, leaders need to learn to drive change. As the old saying goes, if your organization is not evolving, it’s not growing.

Final Remarks

The thoughts seem very straight forward. The big question is...will leaders and organizations make a commitment to develop leaders?

Koonce, R., Miles, G., & Yearout, S. (2000). Wanted: Leader-builders. Training and Development, 34-42.

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