I am delighted because lately everywhere I turn I see articles related to the ongoing need for leadership coaching, training, mentoring, and development. I think today, more than ever, there is a sense of urgency surrounding this topic.
One reason for this urgency might very well be the 2017 Gallup “State of the American Workplace” report, which outlines some alarming statistics related to today’s workforce.
While there are certainly many organizations who have recognized the serious need for leadership development and have acted, I feel safe in stating that many companies continue to treat leadership training and development only as a “nice to have” program.
Even for companies who understand the importance of developing leaders, the challenge continues to be how best to accomplish this goal? There are a great many companies who will offer to train, coach, and develop leaders, but how do you determine which one will be effective for your organization?
Leadership is not just a set of actions taken to accomplish a specific task. Leadership is an art and the ability to successfully lead comes from a “being” state rather than a specified set of rules. Leadership consciousness has little to do with accomplishments, status, or a role within the organization. Sometimes the most “successful” individual contributors have the most difficult time leading others because they are unable to make the necessary shift.
Leadership must come from an altruistic and authentic desire to support and nurture the success of others. The term “servant leader” accurately describes the kind of attitude and approach that successful leaders either naturally display or must develop.
Shifting into a servant leader mindset does not occur as a result attending a course and certainly not without a commitment.
By its very nature corporate hierarchy is competitive. Employees having adapted to this model and not finding themselves in leadership roles are being asked to shift their intention and perspective.
The first necessary step in successfully making this shift is absolute honesty about our own servant leader ability and mindset. Those who would be leaders must be willing to dedicate themselves to making any necessary changes that prevent them from a servant leader perspective.
From the organizational standpoint, I believe companies must carefully identify the right people for leadership positions. While this may sound obvious, I see time and again where people who are successful as individual contributors are being promoted into leadership roles without the skills or development necessary to successfully lead others.
We have all heard it said that “people don’t leave companies, they leave bosses.” Today more than ever the need for leaders is evident. A recent Gallup poll reported that employee turnover is costing $30.5 billion dollars a year. Business cannot afford to treat leadership development as an ancillary service.
When looking for companies providing leadership services, organizations must look at the approach and its effectiveness. Courses need to include concrete practices and methods designed to effectively develop a leader frame of mind. It must teach concepts, but also guide participants into making the shift and thereby maintaining true leadership qualities. Leadership development happens over time and therefore must include some form of ongoing support and guidance. Behavioral change does not happen overnight and rarely alone.
I believe the day of the “manager” has past. This current generation is looking for leaders at every level within the organization and will leave a job to find those who would both lead them, and mentor them until they themselves are ready to lead.