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01/29/2015

Develop Leaders Differently?

IStock_000000831854_webU.S. companies spend almost $14 billion a year on leadership development, according to McKinsey and Deloitte.  Yet most top executives still rank leadership development as their top concern.  Does a disconnect exist between current leadership training methodologies and resulting outcomes that are actually visible from the C-Suite?

I have wrestled with that question for some time.  While I cannot articulate a complete solution in a short blog post, there is a model I have come across that provides some food for thought to expand our thinking about leadership development.  This comes from the world of therapy and Ed Jacob’s book Impact Therapy.  The two worlds have a similar objective: to have an impact on behavior by changing how a person thinks (their “self-talk”).  It provides a five-point foundation to increase our impact on changing behavior.  Keep your own leadership development initiatives in mind as you read through them.

The model is based on 5 “T’s”:

Theory

You must have substantive theory behind the development effort.  This is not some wishy-washy experience or program.  There is solid content and material undergirding it.  From my perspective, this is the easy part because there are a number of great leadership programs out there that already have solid underpinnings.

Thinking

Theory does no good if it does not challenge how a leader thinks.  You cannot change behavior unless you address how a leader thinks about particular situations.  Leadership development must make leaders uncomfortable and challenge them to think differently…if anything is going to change.

Timing

I find this to be a difficult element to incorporate well.  We must have a sense for providing the right experiences at the right time in a leader’s development.  We must know when to speed up and slow down.  We must decipher a leader’s stage of change in order to time the right experiences.

Teaching

This is easy and hard at the same time.  It’s easy because we tend to be more comfortable with this element.  Many programs involve teaching something to leaders.  It’s hard because it takes skill to teach the right tools and concepts to leaders in a way that will be understood and received.

Training

Training refers to actually developing a particular skill in a leader by having them practice that skill.  If you are training me to be an airline pilot, at some point I have to get in the airplane.  Preferably, I get in the airplane to develop my piloting skills before you ask me to go out and carry your family on its next vacation.  What experiences and opportunities can you provide that will help leaders exercise and develop a particular leadership skill?

Put it together

All five of these work together.  It does no good to have great theory and teaching if there is no opportunity for the leader to put it into practice and really develop what was taught (train).  That is like someone who takes a golf lesson but never practices.  Likewise, it does no good for the leader to actively develop and practice a skill if they don’t have the proper instruction and foundation.  That is like a golf player that continually practices an improper golf swing.

Take a look at your own leadership development initiatives.  Rate them on a 1-5 scale (1 being poor and 5 being excellent) on how well you incorporate each of these elements.  Ask some of your leaders.  For those elements on which you scored yourself poorly, ask yourself how you could better incorporate them into your initiative.

This is not easy.  But let’s work together to develop leaders more effectively and have a greater impact on our organizations and the lives of the people in them.


 
 


 

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