You have a menu of leadership development programs, a rigorous set of competencies for each level, and clear roles and responsibilities. Yet your leadership is not where it needs to be. People are letting you down – they are hesitant to speak up, they struggle to sell new ideas with an appropriate business case, and too often, they wait to be directed or told what to do.
It’s all in the culture.
(Warning, there’s business jargon in the text that follows. It may be disturbing to some audiences.)
From an organizational culture standpoint, there are three things that organizations that are excellent at leadership development do well, and consistently. Yes, all three are needed. Some may call it “three legs of a stool.”
(See, I warned you about the business speak.)
Three things the best orgs do to grow a solid leadership pipeline:
1.) They expect leadership at all levels. Whether you’re the pilot flying the plane or the person grabbing the bags from the cargo hold, demonstrating leadership is about professionalism, presence, being prepared and taking initiative, being proactive and forward-looking, and accountability. Organizations that grow leaders set the expectation that, regardless of your positional authority, you show up as a leader. Different than ‘fake it as you make it,’ an organization with leaders at all levels anoints employees at all levels with agency.
2.) They have a feedback culture. There’s no getting away with a seemingly innocent side comment or slacking on a task that is out of the spotlight. Cultures that do leadership well democratize feedback-giving—it’s everyone’s job to provide feedback to colleagues, up and down. See something; say something. That comment that made you cringe? Yes, you heard it. You address it. Feedback does not wait until the annual performance reviews, and it’s not limited to the boss-employee relationship. The added bonus is that everyone gets practice giving and receiving feedback (positive and constructive), and in time, everyone is invested in everyone’s growth.
3.) Their leaders are coaches. Leaders who know how to direct action are great in certain circumstances, but not in all. When you want to foster innovation and when you need the best creative problem-solving, you need people who can think through a challenge, consider options, and advocate for a way forward. Organizations that have a strong leadership pipeline teach their leaders basic coaching skills and expect their leaders to use them in most 1:1s and in facilitating meetings.
Let me put on my coaching hat for a moment and ask, what will you do today to improve in these areas?
This article was posted Sonia Checchia's LinkedIn articles on July 10, 2023.