Leadership, in simple terms, means leading a group of followers to attain a common goal. Professor Warren G. Bennis describes leaders as people who do the right thing and manage people to do things right. Leaders set direction, develop an inspiring goal, and create an avenue for people to work and achieve that goal. Leaders must possess management skills to select the team, group, or organization on the right path to success. A leader carries and shoulders the team’s responsibility. He sees the motivation and inspiration that the team needs in himself.
Leadership is a behavior and not a position. Leaders don’t tell people what to do. Their leadership empowers people to make decisions that support the goals and vision of the organization.
WHAT IS LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT?
According to Wikipedia, leadership development is the process that helps expand the capacity of individuals to perform in leadership roles within an organization. It can also be characterized as activities that improve the skills, abilities, and confidence of leaders. Leadership development is a standard process in an organization’s succession planning, aimed at producing high caliber leaders to take over senior positions when they become vacant. The most common example is in soccer. There are first-team members, and also there are academy players. The aim of having academy players is to have homegrown players who will take over and play for the team when the old players are retired or transferred off of the team.
High performers are typically identified for such leadership development coaching, which may be on a long-term or short-term basis, depending on the level of expertise. Each staff member is monitored and assessed by their superiors. They are watched over a long period, and then the best is recommended for higher positions. Using the example above (Soccer), some academy graduates come with a high recommendation from their youth coaches to the senior staff. They recommend them based on their current abilities, maturity, and potential abilities. The same thing happens in an organization. The best are the ones that are recommended.
Leadership development focuses on developing the leadership abilities and attitudes of individuals. Different personal traits and characteristics can hinder or enhance a person’s leadership effectiveness. That is why people must go through some formalized programs for developing their leadership competence. Leadership skills can be learned, and it benefits both the individual and the organization sponsoring the program.
There is always a time in an organization’s history when there will be a change in leadership. That means that the organization’s fate at that point rests on the shoulders of the current leader. A change in direction can cause two things:
- A positive change can happen when a young and vibrant individual takes over an organization’s helm. Such a leader must be zealous and vision-guided. This person must possess all the qualities of a good leader.
- An unfavorable change: This happens when a bad leader takes over the organization. These are when the followers and staff grumble as a culture, which will affect work efficiency and productivity.
WHAT DETERMINES THE SUCCESS OF A LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM?
The success of a leadership development program is linked to three variables:
- Individual learner characteristics
- Quality and nature of the leadership development program
- Support for behavioral change from the leader’s supervisor
METHODS OF LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT COACHING
Leadership development coaching can take many forms depending on the nature of the organization’s work, ranging from formal instruction, developmental job assignments, 360-degree feedback, executive coaching, and self-directed learning.
- Formal Instruction: These are formal leadership training and programs for leaders. This is called “traditional lecture-based classroom training.” The potential leaders are invited to a program in which elders will tutor them in the same profession. Many people question this method and have described it as an “easier said than done” process of coaching because the ability to translate what has been learned to a standard work setting is questionable.
- Developmental Job Assignment: This is when the potential leaders are assigned to coordinate or participate in some developmental assignments. This kind of assignment is one during which the potential leaders will learn, undergo personal change, and gain more leadership skills resulting from the roles, responsibilities, and tasks involved in that assignment.
- 360-Degree Feedback: This is a method whereby the potential leaders work with feedback and assessments made by people who have come in contact with them. The likely leader must be willing to embrace criticism.
- Coaching: This is more of a one on one mentoring. It is intense, challenging, and at the same time, supportive. Coaching aims to move the leaders towards measurable goals that contribute to individual and organizational growth.
- Self-directed learning: The leaders or individuals teach themselves necessary developmental skills.
FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN FORMULATING A LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY
- The support and commitment of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the senior management team. Any leadership development strategy without the cooperation of the top officers is a mere waste of time.
- Alignment between human capital and the business strategy. Any organization’s leadership development strategy should be designed to support the corporate organizational system to create an avenue that will effectively impact both the organization and the individual.
- Financial resources and sustainability. The developmental leadership strategy will always take time, and resources will be consumed, so the developmental approach must be designed considering financial and other sustainable resources.
CHALLENGES FACED BY LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY
- Lack of commitment by the top governing body of the organization.
- Limited or no resources for the strategy
- Lack of commitment by the members of the organization
- Lack of proper managerial and administrative systems
- And, Lack of technical know-how on how to implement the strategy
- Lack of a proper succession planning culture in the organization