How to support the transition of expert managers to full leadership potential – part 2?
In the first article we identified the need to look at leadership development through three dimensions.
Dimension 1: Clarify the Leadership Attributes
Dimension 2: The Organisational Lens
Dimension 3: The Individual Lens
In this second of three articles we will pay attention to the organisatonal lens in looking how to best develop the leadership attributes that your organisation needs in order to thrive in an a world where change is happening at an ever increasing rate.
Dimension 2: Look through the organisational lens.
Leadership abilities, aptitude and attitude are all essential but ensuring they are fit for purpose to meet the organisation current and future challenges is key.
There are 3 steps in this process to get it right.
The first stage is to analyse where the organisation currently is in terms of its leadership practice. It is about really acknowledging what is currently happening in terms of your organisation. Not what you think, or say, is happening but really looking in the mirror and acknowledging the difference between what you say your leaders are doing and the reality that is experienced by those being led.
To do this effectively requires a level of brutal honesty and seeking feedback from a variety of parts of the organisation in order to really recognise what is really contributing to success and what is getting in the way. The temptation might be to rely on a few key people ‘who know the business’ however this will likely result in a rose tinted view of how the organisation is from a certain perspective rather than really understanding how the organisation is from a systemic viewpoint.
Take time to actually listen to the organisation, its customers, clients, stakeholders. Think broadly to really get the brutal reality of where your organisation is from those who really see it.
This will give you clarity on what is really happening and start a process of systemic feedback that, if sustained, will help you develop a learning culture and help prevent collision to espoused leadership narrative rather than the enacted leadership narrative.
Once you have effectively analysed where the organisation is, really looked in the mirror and acknowledged the truth from multiple perspectives, then you can start to define what leadership attributes your organisation needs from its leaders to meet future challenges.
Firstly, however, we need to explore the potential future in both the short and long term, to think about the opportunities and threats that your next generation of leaders will have to contend with. This isn’t a simple 3-5 year business plan but a vision taking into account the internal and external dynamics. How is the world changing in which you are operating? What trends and mega-trends do we need to pay attention to? How will the changing demographics affect future employees, customers, stakeholders, shareholders, etc? How will your competitors change? How will globalisation or technology change the way your competitors work?
Many organisations will do the first bit, with varying degrees of depth. The challenge is then to really define what leadership attributes will be needed to meet these challenges. This is the bit that perhaps isn’t given sufficient attetnion.
We know the past performance is no guarantee of future success – however it is surprising how many aspiring leaders still look to emulate the leadership style of those who came before and continue repeating this in spite of a changing world. What is crucial here is valuing what has brought success so far and asking will this continue to bring success? What needs to change for the organisation’s leadership population to excel in an increasingly changing world.
Then the right interventions are needed that are specifically designed to develop the leadership attributes your organisation needs to work in your culture and context. This is more than simply delivering ‘leadership workshops’ or ‘training’. It is a suite of interventions that support development of each attributes and lead to long term systemic change.
Think broadly about all the interventions that could be developed. As well as workshops, think about all the other development options that could be available, e-learning, mentoring, coaching, recruitment policies, performance management, etc.
A key aspects is also creating the messaging so the organisation understands why change is necessary. Often communication campaigns simply focus on the change. Take care to ensure the campaign explains why that current situation is no longer good enough, in order to create a sense of push, as well as how the new state will be better, to create a sense of pull. Both sides of this message are needed, before you make the first step, to support effective change.