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3 Critical Components for Developing Leaders

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Organizational culture is comprised of the assumptions, beliefs, and practices of an entity or organization. Culture is reinforced through symbols, rituals, the stories that are told–and through what gets reinforced by way of training and development.

In an age in which leadership is touted over and over again as a critical variable in defining the success or failure of organizations, it becomes all the more important to look to the other side of the leadership coin—how leaders create culture and how culture defines and creates leaders. Edgar Schein, Organizational Culture and Leadership

Schein makes the case that organizational culture is a transference process from leader to leader. Founding leaders embed culture and subsequent leaders ensure that organizational culture is valued and sustained. Therefore, good leader development is an absolute necessity.

There are three critical components for quality leader development:

Evaluate

This starting point is about assessment. One must assess the emerging leader towards their personal development and one must assess the organizational environment that will enhance that development.

The Emerging Leader

What are the foundational strengths, abilities, and personality traits of this emerging leader?

What is the nature of their current leadership presence? How do the present themselves? How are they received by others?

What leadership experience do they possess? What successes point towards a bright future? What wounds need to be addressed and redeemed?

How do they respond to authority? How do they view the concepts of power, privilege, and authority? Do they see these resources as something to wield or as pathways for servant leadership?

Do they have a vision for their life? Is that vision compatible with the calling of the organization?

What character traits need to be developed? What leadership competencies need to be acquired or refined?

The Development Environment

Do those who lead the organization at the highest level see leader development as a necessity?

Is there an organizational environment that allows time and money to be stewarded towards leader development?

Does the organization see people as their most precious resource or does it see them as simply a commodity to be utilized?

Is there a value on both a common and custom approach to leader development–meaning that there are certain core pieces that every emerging leader within the organization must learn and there is the freedom to tailor development towards a person’s needs?

Equip

This is the instructional element of the development process. Equipping must flow towards a leader’s character and their competencies. This reflects both the being and doing parts of leadership.

A leader’s core character matters more than ever. You can open your favorite news app and become instantly aware of the need for leadership character in politics, commerce, education, sports–or any other field you would choose. Edwin Friedman, in his book Failure of Nerve, has made the case that the greatest quality of a 21st-century leader will be the ability to bring a non-anxious presence into every setting. To do so will require solid emotional intelligence, great integrity, and a sense of strong identity.

In my opinion, there is no better description of needed leadership character qualities that what is listed by the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9. This biblical instruction lays out the reality that we cannot live duplicitous lives. We are the same people at home as we are at work. Our true character, our “being,” will always evidence itself through our leadership relationships, communications, and actions over time.

We must also insist upon rigorous competency training. A leader must be a continual learner. A significant portion of that ongoing learning must center around leadership skills.

Leadership core competencies must include the following: strategic direction setting, vision casting, dynamic problem solving, dealing with relational conflict in a healthy way, good public and interpersonal communication, strategy execution, and the ability to truly affect change. Other competencies may be heralded as necessary for growing leaderhsip over time. The goal is not perfection. Some leaders will naturally be better than others in living out these skills. But the effective leader must value these functions and ensure they are accomplished through themselves or others.

Empower

Empowerment is what takes leadership learning out of the classroom and places it squarely in reality. To empower an emerging leader is to risk. There must be permission to succeed and freedom to fail. Empowerment must include the transference of real decision-making authority, the allocation of adequate resources, and a healthy sense of accountability that focuses on leadership learning. Without these three aspects, there is no true empowerment.

Emerging leaders learn best through leading. It will be in the real world experience of leading that character will be revealed and tested. The daily task of leading will exercise competencies towards growth. Real responsibility must be given,

Real responsibility must be given, the opportunity to make a difference be granted, and actionable feedback provided. The emerging leaders around you will benefit from exposure to you and the education your provide. But they will really benefit by owning the mission and having the opportunity to make a significant contribution.

Take some time to consider your leader development efforts. Are you being intentional about evaluating, equipping, and empowering leaders around you? What will it take to move towards these components? Is there a valued leadership development culture within your organization? What will it take to make it so?

The Leader’s Mandate is to always be about the task of raising up more leaders. 

Leader Development or Leadership Devlopment

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The leadership culture has changed.

We live in a “postheroic” era.

People attribute authority to those they trust . . . those with proven integrity.

Titles no longer matter as much as character.

People want to be inspired into action, not driven.

The top three leadership traits that are needed for a “postheroic” era are the abilities to network, collaborate, and have influence without authority.

But these are not traditional leadership skills that universities teach. These topics rarely form the core subject matter of the next leadership conference.

These skills have much more to do with social capital than human capital.

Some thought leaders have begun to differentiate between leader development and leadership development.

Is there a noteworthy difference–or is this semantics?

Maybe both.

David Day, a scholar at the University of Western Australia, makes the case that there is a need to consider both kinds of development for the 21st century leader. He separates leader development from leadership development and says both are necessary.

Day makes the distinction in the following way:

Leader Development

  • Focus on Human Capital
  • A Model of Individual Personal Power, Knowledge, and Trustworthiness
  • The Competence Base is Intrapersonal
  • Necessary Skills:
    • Self-Awareness
      • Emotional Awareness
      • Self Confidence
      • Accurate Self-Image
    • Self Regulation
      • Self-Control
      • Trustworthiness
      • Personal Responsibility
      • Adaptability
    • Self-Motivation
      • Initiative
      • Commitment
      • Optimism

Leadership Development

  • Focus on Relational Capital
  • A Model of Relational Commitments, Mutual Respect, and Trust
  • The Competence Base is Interpersonal
  • Necessary Skills:
    • Social Awareness
      • Empathy
      • Service Orientation
      • Political Awareness
    • Social Skills
      • Building Bonds
      • Team Orientation
      • Change Catalyst
      • Conflict Management

Most would agree that all of the above competencies are needed to effectively network, collaborate and and have influence without authority. Leader development focuses on the individual and can be accomplished in an individual training context. Leadership development focuses more on the team and is better accomplished in a cohort or team context.

Consider these principles for your development of leaders:

  • Development needs grounding, a base from which to establish character and integrity.
  • Development is best done in the context of the mission–the actual work of the organization.
  • Holistic development requires both “hard” trait oriented skills and “soft” people/social oriented skills.
  • Leader development can be done in a one on one training context.
  • Leadership development is best done in a cohort/team environment.

In a “postheroic” era a premium will need to be placed on leadership development with a grounding in the leader development necessity of self -awareness, character and integrity.

What are your thoughts?

(photo credit)

Leadership Is About Removing Obstacles

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Last week was a rich time of learning as I participated in a Doctor of Ministry intensive. One or our professors for the week was Dr. Jason Carthen (check out his web site). He introduced us to the Path-Goal Theory of Leadership.This theory was popularized by R. J. House and T. R. Mitchell. This is not a new concept, but it was new to me. As he described the role of the leader according to this theory I came to realize another aspect of servant leadership that is critical.

While the Path-Goal Theory is not exact, it often includes three basic steps: determine the employee and environmental characteristics, select a leadership style, and focus on motivational factors that will help the employee succeed.

One practical application of the Path-Goal Theory is the removal of obstacles by the leader that might stand in the way of any follower. This is a crucial role for any leader to play. If a leader truly sees that one of his or her primary functions is to raise up more leaders, then this aspect of the Path-Goal Theory should be a daily mandate.

But how does one practically go about removing the obstacles of followers, and thus empowering them to become potentially great leaders. I think there are three specific steps each leader can take.

1. Through Greater Personal Development  As a leader we can first seek to remove obstacles by providing great personal development. This usually begins with a 360 review process that will lead to a personal development plan. Every emerging leader needs this type of feedback rich environment to ensure their ongoing development. The personal development plan needs to be specific, largely focused on a a person’s strengths, and with specific measurable goals. It should also be accompanied by some monetary investment towards outside training programs that will add to the emerging leader’s skill development.

2. Through Providing Adequate Resources  Another key way to remove obstacles from your emerging leader’s path is by providing adequate resources in fulfilling their assigned responsibilities. A leader is in the unique position of steward. A leader needs to constantly think about what their followers need to get the job done. Those resources might include funding, tools or more people for their teams. Don’t ever forget that the most important resource you may provide on a daily basis is hope. Emerging leaders need a variety of resources to succeed and grow. Be sure that they have them.

3. Through Acting As A Sponsor For Those You Lead  A final way in which a leader can help remove obstacles from the path of an emerging leader is by providing sponsorship. Every emerging leader will one day need a good word provided on their behalf. This may be a word to a senior leader. This may be a word to a potential partner. This may be even a word on behalf of the emerging leader to that leader’s team. Sponsorship is an asset and a blessing that every established leader can gift to an up and coming leader. I guarantee you had someone act on your behalf somewhere along the way.

The Path-Goal Theory is about helping those that follow you, and have the potential to be good leaders themselves, by removing the obstacles that stand in their way from becoming truly great leaders.

Who do you have your sites set upon? What obstacles can you identify that are standing in their way of success? What are you going to do about it?

(photo credit)