A hypothesis: You have what you describe as a leadership skills crisis in your organisation; your leadership talent pipeline is hardly bursting at the seams and current leaders aren’t turning the organisation round quickly enough* / rising to the challenge* / creating a compelling vision for the future* / bringing people along with them* / liked* / trusted* / visible* / up to it* / happy* – (* Delete as applicable)
I’ve deliberately painted a very bleak picture, but it is all rooted in the truth of things I see happening in many organisations. So why is it like this? I think there are three main causes;
– We expect a lot from leaders and it isn’t the easiest of roles.
– Leadership requires different things at different times in different contexts. The role is wide-ranging, involving strategy, working with stakeholders of many different flavours, managing ‘upwards’, managing people, driving success, encouraging failure and learning (where it relates to innovation), making things happen, changing things etc.
– Individual leaders have their own strengths and weaknesses and aren’t good at everything. I’ve seen many people struggle as leaders because they’re trying to emulate somebody else’s approach to leadership.
So what can we do about this? In my experience, there are four things that will create a positive impact:
– We need to shift the emphasis from leaders to leadership, creating a culture in which people flourish and are empowered and trusted. Otherwise, leaders will have to learn to lead ‘despite’ the culture.
– We need to equip leaders with more than just a static model of leadership, we need to help them to figure out what is required from them as a leader and to be able to adapt this view as things evolve.
– We need to help people see themselves as they really are, valuing and playing to their strengths and managing their weaknesses.
– Leadership Development programmes need to take a coaching approach and can’t teach a ‘one-size-fits all’ leadership style. We need to help leaders to figure out what their role is, and then figure out how they’re going to deliver that whilst still being authentic to who they are rather than emulating who they think they should be.
I see a lot of very capable and talented leaders around. If we want them to flourish, then we need to create the right environment and help them on their way!
Note: This is one of a series of blog posts I’ve written for The HR Director Blog