Leadership is our ability to influence others, to rally them around an idea, to obtain their commitments and their efforts to achieve this objective. We all have a leadership potential, just like talent for sport or artistic activities. However, it is those of us who work at developing this potential who become the best leaders.
To develop our own leadership, we must first understand our strengths and our preferences. Are we creative? Are we top-notch in maintaining good interpersonal relationships? Do we come across as someone who delivers? Someone who is inspiring? Understanding our strengths and preferences, when they serve us well and when they are limiting us opens perspectives to our development areas (e.g. being good at seeing the forest, we may sometimes trip over the trees!).
Through this information, it is important that we select development areas that we see as important and that we are committed to work on. Without that commitment, we are likely to go back to familiar habits and behaviors. To reach our development goal, we will need to try out new approaches, work differently, step out of our comfort zone. Doing so alone can be intimidating, overwhelming and can lead to demotivation. This is why having access to good tools and to a solid network of individual whom we trust and can share with is crucial. Executive coaches are certified professionals who’s support is invaluable to assist us during this development process.
Leadership Development must be done with a clear goal in mind: increased performance of people, teams and organizations. It would be meaningless for an organization to invest in this if it was not clearly driven by business imperatives. However, as technical as our business may be, we first and foremost work with people. Attempting to bypass people development while trying to increase the performance of employees, teams and organizations quickly leads to pointless efforts and failure.
We too often content ourselves with employees complying to our requests. That is, they do what they are asked to do, properly, with the energy level required to remain employed in our organizations. Yet, we select and hire people who are qualified, experienced, competent, we provide them with good working conditions and the best work tools we can afford, and we believe they are going to work. More than that: we believe they will do good work! Outstanding work! Does it really happen? Does it always happen? Why not? Is there a leap of faith in the assumption that hiring outstanding people leads to outstanding organizational performance? How can we bridge the gap between an acceptable performance and a top performance? Can you imagine the magnified capacity of your fully committed and engaged workforce?
Think of a moment in your work life where you gave your very best. Who were you working for? What were the qualities of that person? Was he/she a good planner, a good resource allocator, a good financial manager? Or was he/she good at inspiring you, challenging you, making you feel valued, capable? Was he/she giving meaning to your work by linking it to your own values? The gap between an acceptable performance and a top performance is bridged by good leaders.
Because investments in people training are sizeable, many organization wonder if they really need or can afford investing in Leadership Development. Think about the investment your organization makes in the salaries of your people. Are you getting the best of this investment? Recent studies have demonstrated that each dollar spent in leadership development brings over nine time this amount in savings or increased productivity. Can you afford not to do it?