At the helm of unbalanced ships

Updated: May 5

Essentially, and incontrovertibly, leadership makes a difference to company performance. When market and resource opportunities are scarce this impact is significantly amplified.  In the Borderless 2016 Leadership Development Survey, 54% of those polled considered that leadership development in their organisation was ineffective and nearly a third (29%) were unaware of any leadership development coaching or mentoring initiatives at all.


An earlier leadership poll showed that 74% considered that enhancing leadership capability would improve an organisation's prospects. In that poll just 17% were confident that the company's activities in this area would actually be effective in delivering leadership improvement.  ​So why does leadership development continue to be a problem area? An effective leadership development programme will successfully bring together a focus on who the leader is (their characteristics and attributes) and what they do (their behaviours). This critical combination contributes to 92% of satisfaction with the leader, 58% leader effectiveness and 56% job satisfaction in followers. It emphasises a common problem with leadership development programmes which focus on one or the other, but rarely both. Developing a deep understanding of one's self and one's personal impact on others, is an essential component in effective leadership development. Clearly this should focus on the usual strengths and weaknesses but additionally should also engage, at a meaningful level - which most development programmes do not - with personal and interpersonal values, aspirations, vulnerabilities and sensitivities. The kind of stuff it can take courage to engage with let alone share with others. Developing this self-knowledge and understanding, and the ability to hold in balance all aspects of oneself - are core components to at least three of the 4Cs of authentic leadership. By its nature this approach is rooted in reality and thereby recognises that leaders cannot be all things to all men. Strengths have downsides, it is just not possible (or desirable?) to be an exceptional performer in all areas. Working effectively with others, developing trust and opening up to others, enables leaders to focus on their greatest strengths and in turn to engage with, and be receptive to, the greatest strengths of their colleagues. We know that when we play to our strengths (and not just areas of skill) our sense of fulfilment, happiness and performance all benefit.  Supporting leaders in their capacity to trust others, to be open and to know themselves is an essential platform on which to develop effective and highly functioning teams. If leadership is important it follows that developing leadership capability is important. It is consequently necessary that leadership development is done effectively and well. Effectively and well means using approaches and tools whose efficacy is supported by real world evidence, and designed and delivered by people who are appropriately skilled and experienced.   To discuss our development programmes get in touch.

“Rarely will a single person be skilled in all…areas. That's why it's critical that leaders find others who can offset their limitations and complement their strengths. Those who don't will not only bear the burden of leadership alone but will find themselves at the helm of an unbalanced ship.” [Ancona et al, 2007 in Leadership: All You Need to Know D. Pendleton and A. Furnham]

This article was first published by ManagingChange on 27/4/16




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