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Leadership Training

In this installment, we need to address Leadership Training. The question provided is often "so how would you do it", in regard to my organization. This is a tough question, but I think I can help you out.

Imagining that I have been tasked with developing a new leadership program in my organization, regardless of the organization type, there are three primary areas that I would attempt to focus the training around. These three would be developing or expanding charisma, differentiating between developing leadership strategy and leadership development strategy, and defining and setting timelines for the renewal of leadership competencies. This would be based on more of a “Reframe” method with the goal of activating the common goals across the group in an effort to foster a more uniformed approach to development (McCauley, Ruderman & Veslor, 2010).

Expanding charisma, or merely developing the benefits that come from it can be a difficult task. Yet, charisma is one of the most abundant qualities when it comes to leadership, regardless of good or bad (Khurana, 2002). Sure, charisma has its pitfalls, but the sub qualities of charismatic people are great nonetheless.

Self Confidence can be a difficult aspect to build upon if the person in question happens to have a low self image. It can also be difficult to reign in if the person in question is overly charismatic. Regardless, charisma can be molded or formed by focusing on both the benefits and negatives of certain aspects of charisma, looking at past or current success or achievements and by focusing or developing the strengths of the individual. In addition, working on executive presence and body exercises such as standing tall, keeping the chin up, etc. are also great exercises and immediately boost self worth. This could be easily done if visual self recognition is achieved, and all of this could be achieved by instating the following steps (Neel Burton, 2012).

Becoming a decent orator would be step one. Instating a program that encourages public speaking would be vital. When it comes to public speaking, practice makes perfect. In this program, each leader within the organization would be made to present information to their peers in a group forum. In doing so, the speaker would be recorded so that the speech could be reflected upon, first in a private session later on, then with a supervisor or leadership coach. This would be a repetitive process until relative comfort is achieved in their speaking ability.

Open Body Language is crucial to good leadership. Being open to your followers is essential if the followers will be expected to interact with the leader on any level. Even if the followers are not going to interact with the leader, the appearance of that leader’s openness is critical in fostering the desire to follow. Working on uncrossing the arms, smiling, shaking hands, talking with your hands, and being eager to engage are things that can be practiced and perfected. The benefit of this would be self-evident in the video and could be expanded upon over time.

Appealing to the desires of the others is also an important part of this process. This is often as simple as asking followers what makes them “tick” or simply appealing to what does. What do they think, what do they want to do in life, etc. Essentially, it is making small talk about them. Of course, this also plays into the idea of making the benefits of the bigger things about them too. For instance, if a new program requires some kind of sacrifice or change by the followers, explaining how these changes benefit the individual would aid in the transition. Being constantly mindful of this will usually breed some kind of success. This would be practiced in the speaking sessions by first taking a topic, developing the speech by listing out the benefits of that topic, then sharing it during the speaking exercise.

Being a great listener is next on my list. If a follower has concerns, listening skills are a crucial tool in a leader’s toolbox. This fosters trust in the followers. Simple exercises such as writing down concerns as they are addressed can be utilized and practiced. This type of training would also help foster a new culture of caring in the organization, as well as feedback.

Differentiating between “developing leadership strategy” and “leadership development strategy” is also a critical step, albeit a simple one. Leadership development is considerably different than Leadership Strategy in that one focuses on the leaders, the other on the mission at hand. Constant reflection and refinement of these two unique but crucial elements would be key in any program.

Each leader would be required to build their own leadership strategy that would be reviewed by and refined with their peers. This would be critical in the idea that it would be expanded upon and perfected via teamwork but also by exercising listening skills, feedback analysis, and refinement. This would also foster commitment in the plan being that peers would know about such plan. This would create a level of commitment by the developers of the plan to hold to it.

Each leader would also have a say in their leadership development plans. It seems only right that a leader has a say in such a plan anyway. However, it would be vital, in the name of 360 feedback, that peers and supervisors also be involved in this process. This ensures adequate and honest development of the plan.

Defining and continual renewal of leadership competencies would be the final phase of the program. Continual renewal is vital for long term success (Bleak & Fulmer, 2009). Competencies by definition are the quality of being adequately or well qualified physically and intellectually. Essentially, it is the list of tasks or behaviors to which the leader must adhere. This would eventually be a list of tasks and behaviors required by the company, but also comprising either tasks or behaviors required by peers and by the leader in question. One could think of it as a peer reviewed journal entry into leadership competencies that would be agreed upon by all before implementation.

Of course, while just an idea, the hope of such a program in regard to the overall impact on the organizations leadership would be that the leadership would end up being on a similar page in regard to overall mission and implementation of tasks. At the same time, it would foster a culture of understanding, improvement, team work, and perpetual personal refinement. Overall, the organization would be moving in a common direction with coordinated efforts and the followers within the organization would be provided constant reminders of the benefits of their progress and hard work.


Resources:
McCauley, C. D., Moxley, R. S., Van, V. E., & Center for Creative Leadership. (1998). The Center for Creative Leadership handbook of leadership development. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Khurana, R. (2002, September). The Curse of the Superstar CEO. Harvard Business Review , http://hbr.org/2002/09/the-curse-of-the-superstar-ceo/ar/1.
Neel Burton, M. (2012). Building Confidence and Self-Esteem. Psychology Today , http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hide-and-seek/201205/building-confidence-and-self-esteem.
Bleak, J. L., & Fulmer, R. M. (2009). Strategically developing strategic leaders. Duke Corporate Education, Retrieved from http://www.dukece.com/papers-reports/documents/Strategic_Leaders_000.pdf

David Robertson

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