Leadership development is essential for any organisation that wants to successfully implement and realise its strategic goals. Leaders are directly responsible for creating an environment where employees can demonstrate the desired behaviour. If you don’t pay attention to your leadership style, change will be much more difficult or even impossible at all. To ensure that change processes are not unsuccessful, it is important to ensure that employees are sufficiently included in the change. And that is precisely the role of the leader: Influencing others to achieve goals.
Employee engagement surveys show that more than 70% of employees are either not involved or not engaged. This is an important task for leaders, as it has been famously said that “employees do not leave companies, but bad managers”. Studies also show that people leave an organisation more quickly because of a bad manager than because of the level of the salary.
Good leadership has many benefits such as lower absenteeism costs, lower turnover, faster organisational results, more innovation, and a more agile organisation. All of which makes it easier to implement changes.
There are plenty of reasons why one should start working on leadership. Several organisations have already begun doing so, but it is important to note that not all these trajectories are successful in achieving effective leadership. To have a successful process, it is crucial to incorporate feedback from the leader’s own employees.
There are 3 phases to a successful leadership development trajectory: determining the direction, interventions, and perseverance.
Phase 1: Determine direction
The first phase is “Determine Direction”. In this phase, it is important to determine the strategic goal of the organisation and the behaviour that is needed to achieve it. Additionally, a tailored leadership profile should be created. This profile should describe the organisation’s vision on leadership, allowing leaders to know what is expected of them. It can also be used to attract the right leaders. The task of the board is to determine the direction of the organisation, but it is most beneficial if input from the employees is considered. This input can help to refine the common goal and leadership profile, and make it something of the entire organisation, thereby increasing acceptance and the chances of success.
Phase 2: interventions
If the strategic goal is clear and the leadership profile is ready, then the second phase, “Interventions”, can begin. There are countless interventions that can be used, customised for the organisation. These interventions must always contain four components:
- Getting everyone on the same page and increasing teamwork
- Knowledge development around leadership
- Self-understanding of leaders
Define improvement actions
Getting everyone on the same page and increasing teamwork is imperative. All leaders within the organisation should comprehend and embody the shared purpose. To foster greater respect between them, they should become acquainted with one another and gain insight into each other. This forms a crucial foundation for leadership, yet it does not automatically lead to improved leadership.
Knowledge development around leadership is also crucial. A lot of scientific research has been done on leadership, yet many leaders enter the profession without any formal training. They rely on their own experiences and the examples they have seen from others.
Leadership is a profession in which one can gain a great deal of knowledge. By developing their understanding, leaders can learn about the various theories used in the field, and how they relate to each other. This understanding can help them expand their skillset. However, simply acquiring knowledge does not guarantee improved leadership capabilities.
When it comes to the self-understanding of leaders, you need feedback from people who receive your leadership. The more detailed and specific the feedback, the more effective it will be. To assess the overall effectiveness of leadership in an organisation, the employee engagement survey is a great tool. However, it doesn’t provide a clear representation of how an individual leader is performing. To gain a better understanding of an individual’s leadership, it is best to have conversations between the leader and the employees. Additionally, using a 360-degree feedback model, such as the Circumplex Leadership Scan 360, can provide a comprehensive insight into the leader’s performance and effectiveness.
Once the insights from the feedback have been obtained, it is essential to determine improvement actions. Improvement goals should be established based on the feedback and knowledge gathered, with the end goal of achieving the original objective. If the leader begins to work on these goals at once, a visible change in the employees’ perceptions can be seen within a few weeks.
To achieve lasting behavioural change, it generally takes an average of 6 to 12 months for those around you to observe the shift. However, by making a conscious effort to vocalise the changes you intend to make and kindly requesting that those close to you hold you accountable if you ever slip back into your old habits, you can expect to see tangible progress in a matter of weeks.
Phase 3: perseverance
The third phase is about assurance, or “Perseverance.” It is human nature to fall back into old behaviours, making this the most difficult phase. Even if the intentions behind the proposed behaviour change are good, if a leader reverts to old behaviour after a few days and nobody confronts the leader, then a lot of self-discipline is needed to persevere.
To help with this, it should be made a permanent part of the progress talks that the leader has with their own leader. When goals have been agreed upon with the next higher person and they regularly ask about progress, the external pressure makes it easier to persevere. However, if the superior fails to ask about this, the urgency recedes, and it is likely that someone will fall back into old behaviour.
The leader should further help to foster perseverance by agreeing with the team members on what they will do differently and encouraging them to come to the leader if they fall back into their old behaviour. If employees fail to do this, it can be tempting to lose sight of the intended change.
If you are looking to realise your strategic goals and want to work on leadership development to do so, get in touch with Quintop. We can help you develop a leadership development process involving the employees in the three phases, increasing the chance of success. Start improving your leadership today and see the results for yourself.