Down to Business: The four stages of leadership development – part II

Andy Singer - Speaking

Last week we reviewed the four stages of leadership development. The four stages as defined are individual contributor, novice manager, experienced manager and transformational leader. To ensure their long term survival organizations must assure they identify and move managers through these four stages of leadership development. To develop transformational leaders you must be willing to:

• Have a broader and more flexible view of the organization and how it can be improved.

• Take creative steps to encourage transformational behavior and set up the proper training and reward system.

• Set up a system to help team members recognize and correct undesirable behavior.

• Assure your senior executive team practices holistic thinking and not just optimization of their department or area of responsibility.

As an example of the last point, you might have part of your vice president of engineering’s annual goals be associated with on-time delivery. What better way to show the importance to one of your executives, of how their department can impact another department’s performance and ultimately the customer.

Like any other cultural change, it’s essential to involve those that will be impacted the most early and often in the process. There must be a sense of ownership. It is also critical to find champions from within the group that will enthusiastically support and promote the required changes to the current system and process. One or more transformational leaders on staff, combined with the right external development expertise will help to assure a successful program.

Developing transformational leaders requires that your executives learn to be superior mentors and coaches to others in the organization. They will also need to support the career development of their managers and assure they understand how to delegate and grow the skills of others in the organization. Transformational leadership is a change of mind set from doing things, as in transactional management, to motivating, inspiring and coaching, while still setting challenging goals and milestones. This should become a process and not just a week long project. It is a lasting change in behavior and culture when implemented properly and effectively. You will need to provide training, workshops and follow-up to assure the process continues and that the results are optimized.

In addition, there are certain practices that should be developed within your management team to help with the leadership development process. One of these practices is for your managers to keep a personal journal about issues that arise along with their thoughts, actions and results. This allows a manager to learn more as time moves forward, as past events might not be remembered correctly or with the required level of detail otherwise. By assuring an unbiased view of the past, you are able to better reflect on improving your management style. Your managers should also learn to treat conflicts as learning opportunities for all. In the past, I have let my direct reports make certain mistakes, as I knew they would learn far more by living the results. When doing this it’s important to understand when and where the lesson is worth the cost of the mistake. Lastly, to become transformational leaders your team will need to build a shared vision for the organization and seek the active participation of all stakeholders.

The effectiveness in triggering organizational transformation depends largely on the stage of development of key executives, particularly the CEO and his/her direct reports, their level of self-awareness and commitment to vertical development of others in the organization. It is only through a combination of both horizontal and vertical leadership development that we can truly transform an organization and their leadership to new heights of performance.

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