If an organizations leadership development initiatives are well organized one may expect it to start off like this, with a personal invite: “Adriaan, we would like for you to attend a leadership program. It will be facilitated by such and such business school or consultants. It will consist of several modules that revolve around our organizations desired leadership competencies and business drivers (values). We think you are the future of this organization and that you will benefit greatly from it…”
My answer: “Thank you” or “Why me?”
It may seem like the “Why me” was already answered in the invitation. But because of a fairly common trust divide between management and employees – “us and them” – I may doubt the offered reason. Inside, hidden from my leaders I have mixed emotions and thoughts. Don’t they think I am good enough? Or, wow, they obviously have confidence in me. Or, darn, I am so busy, under so much pressure to perform, I really can’t afford to spend time away from the office, with some added program projects. Or, not another leadership course…I have attended a few of these over the years and they are all the same. Or even, I am performing, why waste valuable time with this? If I were to share these questions and concerns openly my organization would have some decent responses lined up.
In essence though, deep inside I am left with impressions that I must do this – if I want to be seen to be a grateful and loyal corporate citizen – and it is ultimately to the benefit of the organization. Yes I will hopefully grow, but it’s for “them”, not me. It will simply add to my pressure; take me away from my already extended workload – and in today’s competitive environment everybody has this.
Or, I look forward to it and approach the program with a positive attitude. However, somewhere on the journey it becomes a burden because pressure back in the workplace mounts. I learn a lot, but I don’t have the time or space needed to incorporate learning to a point of changing habits or making it part of my instinctive response and behaviour.
I can go on. And remember, the above flow resulted from a good and personal invitation. Many organizations don’t even start like that. Supervisors and Managers are simply “told” about a program and then they attend.
If you are honest with yourself you will either recognize the above scenarios because it came across your path, or you will realize that on some level it is true. You may even feel that because the organization pays, individuals should accept that it is about the organization and it must benefit; any other thought borders on entitlement… But, is this about being right or about the end result of a much improved leader. Is this about who is right or about what is right? The organization invests millions and it simply must show return. What is the return? Better human beings becoming better leaders that lead the organization into greener pastures.
How does one derive maximum benefit from the investment of leadership development? It is not complex at all. But authenticity is at the heart of it.
First, make it about them, not the organization. Ensure that the program is authentically designed to assist the proponent with deep, meaningful, personal growth and development. Only if the leader truly changes, deep inside, will they lead better and will the organization automatically benefit. If this does not happen it is all a game of pretend – ticking the box to report that we do invest in our people and the participants pretending that the program had a huge impact while nothing substantially changes back in the workplace.
Second, the journey must help someone truly discover themselves – that best part inside them – bring it to the surface and afford them the opportunity to embrace and commit to this true and best self. Then they will go back into the work environment and show up with more confidence; Authentic Confidence.
What I truly think and feel about ME reflects in everything I do; and definitely reflects in how I treat others; lead others; behave instinctively in everyday life and leadership situations. This essence has to be at the heart of any leadership development. It is in part why the profession of Coaching has grown so exponentially – it is about me growing as a unique individual. But even this approach – in far to many instances – has turned away from these truths in that Coaching is often implemented for corrective measures or it is aligned strictly around needed business objectives, which takes us back to the original problem.
Third, what happens after the formal development program may be more important than the actual training. What do you do to ensure that leaders remain tuned in to what they learned, discovered and committed to? I’m not even talking about a few follow up meetings but a structure or system that keeps leaders leadership fit forever more; that allows them to voluntarily take ownership of their own journey from there on.
Whatever is done MUST result in authentic personal growth and change; which then creates a more wholesome and healthy human being that’s Authentically Confident and who leads naturally, authentically.
And, the ideal is that the very principles shared and taught to the individual – which he/she absolutely buys into because it authentically changed him/her – happen to be so universal that it can naturally be used to lead back in the workplace; it becomes a natural extension of the leader. If you can achieve this you are on a perfect wicket and will enjoy return on your investment. The leader you invested in then becomes a powerful instrument and multiplier of two important elements that any organization needs: Universal Leadership Processes that work and more Authentically Confident Leaders.
And, I guarantee you such a leader will align far easier and quicker to whatever your business drivers are; to whatever leadership competencies your organization promotes because most of these are fairly common and universal anyway.
If this is what you want for your leaders and organization it would be my absolute privilege to chat. We now use our I-Confidence Program together with the Global Leadership Platform App to implement all three the above steps.
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