There are lots of approaches to leadership development, with most focused on developing the leadership abilities of individuals. You have your options – college courses, leadership development institutes, executive certificate programs, online training, coaching, the list goes on, and they are all pretty good.
But what if you’re one of those business owners, managers, or supervisors who, well, are just not too excited about developing your leadership skills? Is there actually a way that you can learn how to become a leader without working at it? After all, it seems like a lot of effort, time, expense, and – heck, what’s the real benefit and hype about leadership development that can generate over 541,000 searches on Google?
I’ve got some great news for you – and some bad news. First – the bad news:
Lazy people don’t make great leaders.
They don’t even make good leaders. Matter of fact, I’m not sure it’s very easy to explain how you can become a leader – but at the risk of appearing lazy myself, I’ll give it a try and list some practices that should be part of any leadership development program. Bear in mind, it’s not an all-inclusive list, but it might save you some time to start, and if you need a leg up on learning some effective leadership development practices, you just might experience some of the good news – great leadership improves business performance!
If You Lead – They Will Follow?
Not all the time, but the concept is right. You need to learn to lead and manage effectively. And that requires some effort. First off, let’s understand that each of us has our own unique perspective – our lens through which we view business activity – it’s ours and not shared by anyone else. Your ability to learn effective leadership and management practices comes from experiences that are distinctly yours, and built from your professional and life perspective.
A central element to effective leadership of others requires that you understand better how to understand other individual perspectives as well as to better understand how you can increase the connection between their perspective and your own unique experiences in leadership and management.
Formal Authority Does Wonders For The Insecure
The use of formal authority to lead and manage others does not yield effective leadership results over time. It may yield production and service delivery results. Can’t argue that. But do employees look up to a manager who, in order to get things done, always tells and rarely asks? When I was leading and managing large groups of employees I used to say that leading and managing works best when you emphasized interpersonal communications 90% of the time and your authority 10% of the time (at the most). This leads to the next effective practice – communications.
Talk Less – Listen More – Understand A Lot
In every business there is a necessity to communicate with others in order for that business to be successful – however success is defined for that business. The necessity to communicate can be wrapped around one’s perspective, their motivation, professional standards, and even their personality.
As human beings we learn to communicate at a very early age. As adults in a business setting, we need to continually relearn how to communicate effectively in that business in order to satisfy both our own internal needs for acceptance and growth, and for the business’ need for achieving its success.
There is a business communication process in every business. More than likely it is a combination of formal and informal practices, procedures, and policies that have evolved over the life of the business. The process may be characterized as cohesive and aligned, or, it may be characterized as full of contradictions and cross-purposes. Two extremes, but not unrealistic. In businesses which focus on developing and maintaining effective communications, constant effort and attention is given to the effort.
What’s Your Glue Look Like?
As a leader it’s important to understand what the glue is that can hold your business communication efforts together. Most often that glue starts with a commonly shared perspective on the company purpose and mission, whether that purpose and mission is written or unwritten. Where the purpose and mission are unwritten it is an important first step to discuss with staff their understanding of the company’s purpose and mission.
I’ve given you several practices for leadership development. You may be a CEO, Owner, Manager, or Supervisor but you may not be a leader. Leadership authority generally is assigned by the employees. Employees accept you as the manager; they do not have to accept you as their leader. You need to earn their acceptance as a leader.
Learning to lead is a continuous process. Enjoy it.