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Why a leadership development programme is a sound investment


Help your managers make the most of their capabilities, and both they and your company will reap the benefits.

Natural born leaders are the lottery winners of the business management world. The rest of us need a little help, says CEO and leadership coach John Hawkins, writing for Forbes. That help can come in the form of purposeful leadership management development.

Leadership development and leadership training are not the same thing:

  • Leadership training focuses on practical skills and day-to-day management.
  • Leadership development embraces a more forward-looking approach and a broader mindset, which in turn will enable the development of “a goal-based, purposeful leadership plan”.

Where to begin?

There are some steps to be taken before embarking on a leadership development programme, in order to ensure that your business has “a crystal-clear vision and laser-sharp goals and objectives”. Hawkins suggests that as part of the preparatory stage, you make sure you have the answers to these questions:

  • What do we value?
  • What do we believe in?
  • What do we as a business stand for?
  • What positive behaviours do we want to recognise and reward?

The next stage is to use them to clarify your vision, goals and objectives. Keep your objectives S.M.A.R.T – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely. The outcome of this exercise will give you a clear destination to aim for, and will ensure that your leadership development journey is purposeful.

What next?

A good leadership development programme will aim to equip managers to “lead with vision and purpose, and inspire those around them to do the same”. It’s really mostly about working with and inspiring people, and that involves mutual trust, meaningful communication, and modelling the behaviours you want to see.

Fostering trust:

“People are always your greatest resource – whether clients, customers, vendors or employees.” Trust is important, and should be developed with everybody across all levels of your business. Devise plans that will help to strengthen the trust between employees, clients, suppliers, and management. Don’t think in terms of quick-fix boosters, but prepare to transform behaviours over time. One way you can help to foster trust and motivate your employees is to invest in them by putting them through leadership development programmes.

Two-way communication:

Great leaders are often able to express themselves clearly and effectively, but they also need to learn to listen. Understanding how to hold open dialogue is a “core component of quality leadership development”. Listening and comprehending the value of input “provides tremendous opportunity for clarity and improvement – both for your business and people”.

Modelling behaviours:

The leader sets the tone, and the rest of the company follows. If you have a bad attitude, are self-absorbed and unmotivated, then your staff will mirror those qualities. The good news is, if you are motivated, passionate, compassionate and capable, your staff will mirror that instead. Be positive in your approach, and avoid a blame culture by focusing on solutions.

What else?

KISS: Keep it simple stupid. Have a clear plan and “dedicate resources only to areas that are beneficial to the business”. For example, because Hawkins lacked a solid social media plan, he found himself trying to manage a blog, a Facebook page (and group) and a variety of other social media accounts. Having a solid plan enabled him to streamline this.

Whine time. Open dialogue doesn’t work in a culture where self-expression is stifled, but constant whining drains a team’s energy. If somebody starts to whine, Hawkins sets a three-minute timer, and once that time is up they have to stop complaining and move on to finding a solution.

When to start?

Leadership development can make a huge and positive difference to you, your team and your business. Enable your managers to fully develop their existing capabilities, and your company will attract quality customers, vendors, suppliers and employees. It takes time to change cultures and relationships, sometimes years, so the time to embark on that transformational journey is right now.