y experience tells me that people no longer have the time or inclination for long drawn-out leadership development programmes and time spent away from the office on courses.
With business changing daily you can’t afford for your best people to be away from the business for extended periods even if it is for a good reason like developing their leadership skills.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
How to Speed Up Leadership Development
Here are 5 ways you can speed up leader development without taking them away from the business.
1. Focus your energy and attention where it will have the greatest impact
The most important way is to focus your energy and attention where it will have the greatest impact. One of the biggest challenges we face when trying to develop leaders in organisations is the feeling that we have to have plans in place for every leader. Now, of course every leader is important, but trying to act on a macro scale slows you down. Not all individuals and roles have equal impact on the organisation so, to make rapid progress, focus on those individuals or areas of the business that will have the greatest impact. It may be that working with the executive team will have the greatest impact on the organisation. Alternatively, increased competition might mean that developing leadership within the sales and marketing functions would be the highest priority.
2. Design “smart jobs” so day to day activity addresses key leadership challenges
70% of development happens through work experiences so you need to be smart in the way you design jobs, roles and responsibilities so leaders can develop the skills they need through their day-to-day activity. For example, if you want a client services lead to become more strategic at an organisational level, there is no point limiting them to account management for a few clients.
3. Identify coaches and mentors to help leaders reflect on and absorb their learning
Leaders will achieve the greatest development from their experience if given the chance to reflect on what they’ve learned and how they came to learn it. Coaches and mentors can help support this reflection as well as providing useful information and guidance that can reinforce and build on the learning.
4. Help leaders decide what knowledge, information and training they need
Coaching and mentoring are invaluable for leader development. Coaches and mentors help leaders develop greater self-awareness of their skills and qualities and coming to their own decisions about how to make progress. They also help leaders identify gaps in their knowledge, information and skills that they can best address through training and education.
5. Find easily accessible, digestible sources of knowledge and information
Leader development in organisations has traditionally happened through face-to-face classroom training but today’s business climate is different. Technology means there are an increasing number of online resources as well as social and mobile tools that are available when needed. As well as the usual business books and journals, there are now blogs, podcasts, videos and webinars that leaders can access through smartphones, tablets and computers. This means that leaders can access the knowledge and information they need as they need it – at their desk, while travelling or outside work hours if they are so inclined.
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