Leadership Development

Calculating the Market Value of Leadership

leadership300Leadership is critically important to company performance. Putting a value on it may lead to greater investment in leadership development as a result of a change in priorities for resource allocation.

In recent years, investors have learned that defining the market value of a firm cannot just be based on finances. These financial outcomes have been found to predict only about 50% of a firm’s market value. Another challenge is that this financial information has become widely known and shared, meaning that the investor insights it affords are hardly unique.

To gain more insights into a specific firm, investors have shown more interest in intangibles like strategy, brand, innovation, systems integration, collaboration, and so on. Investors have also worked to track and measure these intangibles, even if more subjective. The next step for investors is to analyze the predictors and drivers of these intangible factors — which means focusing on leadership.

Wise, long term investors recognize that leadership affects firm performance. But too often, assessments of leadership are haphazard and narrow. For instance, in our research, we found that investors allocate about 30% of their decision making based on quality of leadership, and they have much less confidence in their ability to assess leadership than in their assessments of financial or intangible performance. Investors may say “this leader is charismatic, has a vision, or treats people well” but there is little analysis behind what has often become a “gut feel” approach.

Numerous studies have shed light on what good leadership is; synthesizing this research into useful insights for investors would help counteract intuitive leadership assessments. A leadership capital index would inform investors about the readiness of the firm’s leadership to meet business challenges.

The leadership ratings index we have developed has two dimensions, or domains: individual and organizational.

Individual refers to the personal qualities (competencies, traits, characteristics) of both the top leader and the key leadership team in the organization.

Organizational refers to the systems these leaders create to manage leadership throughout the organization and the application of organization systems to specific business conditions.

Individual:

  1. Personal proficiency: To what extent do leaders demonstrate the personal qualities to be an effective leader (e.g. intellectual, emotional, social, physical, and ethical behaviors)?
  2. Strategist: To what extent do leaders articulate a point of view about the future and accordingly adjust the firm’s strategic positioning?
  3. Executor: To what extent do leaders make things happen and deliver as promised?
  4. People manager: To what extent do leaders build competence, commitment, and contribution of their people today and tomorrow?
  5. Leadership differentiator: To what extent do leaders behave consistent with customer expectations?

Organizational:

  1. Culture capability: To what extent do leaders create a customer-focused culture throughout the organization?
  2. Talent management: To what extent do leaders manage the flow of talent into, through, and out of the organization?
  3. Performance accountability: to what extent do leaders create performance management practices that reinforce the right behaviors?
  4. Information: To what extent do leaders manage information flow throughout the organization (e.g., from top to bottom, bottom to top, and side to side)?
  5. Work practices: To what extent do leaders establish organization and governance that deal with the increasing pace of change in today’s business setting?

 

While it may not be easy to precisely track each of these 10 elements, when investors include them in interviews, observations, surveys, and reports, they will dramatically increase their ability to realize full firm value.

Boards of directors can have a more thorough process for evaluating the quality of leadership within their organization. C-suite executives who have primary responsibility for firm value can include leadership as part of this discussion. Leadership development specialists charged with developing leaders can focus less on personal characteristics of leaders and more how investors might view them.

Realizing the market value of leadership could also have a significant impact on many organization processes: risk management, governance, social responsibility, reputation, and leadership development. Each of these processes could be upgraded with a disciplined and through approach to assessing leadership.

Transitioning from a “gut feel” or narrow assessment of leadership to an index that can start to predict the impact leaders have on intangible value creation changes the game of leadership assessment and development.

The leadership capital index will help investors and others improve their approach to firm valuation. When leadership capital becomes a factor in investor judgments, it will naturally receive more emphasis in day-to-day corporate life, to the benefit of many. It is now time for investors and others to use a leadership capital index.

Adapted from an original article by David Ulrich and Allan Freed , HBR April 2015

Original Article here

Emotional Intelligence: Forget Business School – Why An Emotional Education Is Indispensible

Where is the HBS for emotional intelligence?

Most people still equate intelligence to academia, the power your brain has to process and remember information and your ability to draw conclusions from fact and data. But it is painfully obvious that there is much more to intelligence than just raw IQ.

How many people do you know who are academically brilliant and have degrees from the best schools, but have not managed to become successful in their professional or personal lives, despite having had many opportunities handed to them? How many times have you come across an employee who is brilliant and excels at the skill set required, but is so incapable of communicating or listening that he thwarts his own growth? How many times have you thought: “How did this idiot become so successful?” Often, the answer is linked to emotional intelligence.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, understand, use, manage and control emotions. This not only comprises our own emotions but also those of others, including their motivations and desires. Throughout your life, from childhood to adulthood, your level of emotional intelligence affects your behavior and interaction with others: your family, your friends, your colleagues, people you don’t know, those you respect, those you want to gain respect from, those you want to impress, those you need, people you fear, people you love. Your level of emotional intelligence will determine how good you are at engaging with others and drawing them to you.

Like many children, I grew up being told by my teachers throughout school that being the best in academics, being intellectually curious and working hard would make me successful. Therefore, as a diligent student, I collected the honors and academic brand names one after the other to put on my resume. And do not get me wrong, I am very proud of my achievements. Institutions like Stanford University and Harvard Business School have been invaluable in my growth and the path that I have taken, not only because of the classes but also because they connected me with some of the most admirable people I know. However, when faced with life’s personal and professional challenges, I do not find myself relying on the teachings from those institutions as much as I find myself having to draw from my emotional understanding of my environment and of myself.

According to the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory published by the Hay Group, emotional intelligence is defined by four fundamental attributes: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management. I strongly believe that it is by developing all of these that we become more successful and fulfilled people.

Self-awareness is about knowing yourself and being able to assess your own emotions.

When you are able to understand why you respond a certain way to a situation, you are then able to manage it better and avoid the stress and discomfort that comes with it. The other source of self-awareness is an understanding of the way others respond to you. This is a difficult skill to grow because we naturally tend to see what we want to see. But being aware of your impact on others allows you to better motivate and lead them, which is an indispensable trait of a successful leader.

Self-management is your ability to control impulsive feelings.

It is your ability to adapt to changing situations while staying positive without reacting to them quickly. This is particularly important as an entrepreneur when you are constantly faced with new challenges. Managing your impulses is the only way to tackle challenges successfully and prevent yourself from feeling overwhelmed. In practical terms, this can translate to taking a cool-off period before responding to an investor who may have upset you, or taking the time to explain a problem to an employee instead of telling her off in front of the team.

Social awareness is the ability to understand the needs and concerns of others.

It requires a high level of empathy and will enable you to recognize power dynamics. People who are socially aware are able to relate to others and to draw them in. They know how to make every individual feel special, understood and respected. As an entrepreneur, if you are trying to build a team and motivate people, you need to be socially aware in order to create and foster a culture in which your team can grow in a healthy way.

Finally, relationship management is the ability to nurture relationships and inspire people. It is the capacity to influence others and defuse conflicts. For this you need to have developed self-awareness, self-management and social awareness. This is the attribute that leaders most share. Inspiring others comes naturally to them and because people believe in these strong leaders, they are more likely to overcome challenges for them.

Where do you learn Emotional Intelligence?

None of these attributes are taught in school. There is no official track one can follow to improve them. And yet they are integral to success and self-fulfillment. I have focused here on their professional impact, but it is easy to draw parallels to one’s personal life. Ever since I started Boticca with my business partner, it has been blatantly obvious to me that it is almost impossible to be a successful entrepreneur without high emotional intelligence. This is even more significant today, when teams are cross-cultural and businesses are global, thus increasing the complexity in the nuances of how emotions are expressed. Yet where does one learn how to hone it?

People I know with high emotional intelligence have often developed it thanks to their families. Their parents are themselves highly emotionally intelligent and have taught them as children through dinner conversations, through the simple observation of their interactions with others or through their direct coaching. They also surround themselves with friends with similarly high emotional intelligence. I see that with my successful entrepreneur friends who openly discuss issues of self-awareness and relationship management amongst themselves. Organizations such as EO or YPO try to encourage the development of emotional intelligence by creating environments where young leaders feel comfortable enough to discuss these issues. But this only comes along when you have already reached a certain level of success and awareness.

So, without a strong support system of family, friends or mentors to teach you and help you grow your emotional intelligence, what are you supposed to do? This is such a critical component of success and yet it is mostly ignored. Where is the Harvard Business School equivalent for emotional education? Why shouldn’t you prepare for emotional conflicts and management while you prepare for a career in business? Until someone opens the University of Emotional Intelligence or creates a curriculum for it, we’re stuck learning exclusively through the School of Life.

Original Article by Avid Larizadeh  in Forbes.com

Employee Engagement needs Emotional Leadership

engaged-employeesIt was a few years ago now,  I was talking to corporate HR departments about employee engagement and ways to engender it. Some interesting strategies on rewards and remuneration were around and some of the incentive or “points” reward systems were in place. In Ireland in particular, high employment meant getting and securing suitable employees was a challenge.  And keeping them was a high priority especially after training costs and the costs of actually employing them were taken into account. In high turnover industries like call centres – staff would move for the slightest increase in salary and often companies would find themselves hiring back employees who had left –one year later at a much higher hourly rate.

Things have changed. Unemployment is high, savings are low, property is where it is and there is an idea out there that people are happy to “have jobs” and can be treated less well.  Not true. I have noticed that key performers for the Sales and IT functions for example, are often hard to locate in Ireland currently. A number of businesses I work with find these positions hard to fill – with the right people. the search for and retention of talent remains a key competitive goal.

While there have been a lot of cutbacks the retained staff in organisations have to do more, have a wider brief (requiring more training and key skills) and own more intellectual capital than heretofore. Assuming that those that are currently engaged are performers it is more critical than ever to keep them and their key skills. Not only is retention required but in this “New Economy” they need to be operating at their full potential in a way that is sustainable and positive. They need to be “Engaged”.

Employee engagement means employees  being involved in, and enthusiastic about their work, who consistently act in ways that further their company’s interests without reward or external motivational factors. Engagement is distinctively different from employee satisfaction, motivation and organisational culture and contributes directly to shareholder value (the bottom line folks!). Despite this recent figures from Gallup for example show companies falling considerably below the targeted engagement levels.

While Engagement is distinctively different, it is driven by satisfaction, motivation and culture – as well as a sense of belonging and being valued. It is about passion, for your job, your team, your brand and what the company is trying to achieve. And passion is more than a number. Passion is an emotion.

To engage employees and get them passionate one must use passion and communicate passion and act passionately. One must communicate on an emotional level with people – because to get them passionate you must connect emotionally. As a leader it’s a considerable advantage to be emotionally intelligent. To engender world class performance you must work with people on an intellectual level and an emotional level. I also think to be at its best there needs to be an instinctual or gut level connection.

The results of using the three levels and particularly the underdeveloped emotional level are been seen as having huge impact in organisations. Being emotionally Intelligent is not about being emotional, but of being able to understand your own and others emotions and act accordingly. Through understanding how you are, how others are, how empathy works and understanding how to communicate with this understanding.

Your key employees can resonate with positive emotions if you lead them in this way. This resonance passes through the organisation like ripples on a pond engaging other employees and customers too after all – they are never more enamoured with your company than your people are.

It starts with Leadership. They are the core. They can be the stones dropped into the still pond to send out ripples of energy, motivation and positivity impacting all your people and your results. To the spreadsheet lovers out there – that’s “leveraging your Human Capital to deliver bottom line results and shareholder value!”

Leaders ain’t necessarily so … Leadership is not management

compass1Why should anyone be led by you wrote Goffee and Jones (HBR) in 2001. Indeed. Often new leaders spent so much time on goals and targets and using “climbing skills” shall we call them, that when they arrive where they wanted to get to they think more of the same will work.this is not Leadership. Is the guy who is best at the Sales Function the best Leader of the Sales function? Is the IT guy who best hits his targets and reduces response times the best guy to motivate and set the vision for others? Is the guy whose quality control efforts drove excellent improvements in compliance for the last number of years the best leader of the QA function? To paraphrase George Gershwin “It Ain’t Necessarily So”…

The set of skills required to get you up the ladder is not the same set you need to be a good Leader. Leadership is not the same thing as being the boss (the one in charge, the top dog, the numero uno the big kahuna). Often we find Leaders in organisations who are there for the wrong reasons. Often too these people mean well and work very hard. But are they managing and doing what they always did and expecting results other than what they are getting. Is this Leadership. Do they have the perspective or time to make themselves into good leaders or even great leaders. Certainly most have the raw materials.

So where to start? The first step to good Leadership is counter-intuitive – just STOP. It’s counter intuitive because some leading by example feel they need to up the pace and keep up a very busy work schedule and work ethic. Others are so lost in the mire of “busy-ness” and the schedule of goal setting and goal completion that they never stop doing. You need to stop – to pause – to reflect. If you are doing – you are not being – and certainly not reflecting. And you must spend time reflecting – to understand yourself, your ego, your values, your beliefs and your impact on others. Good leaders need time to empathise, to think about others, to understand, frame and adopt THEIR Vision of the Organisation (as opposed to its Mission). So to Start, first you must STOP.

These Leadership skills are all things that can be developed. To become a Great Leader in the style of the Transformational or Authentic framework you can work on these things. If you give them time. Remember back when you developed the Sales, QA or IT skills that got you to where you are – well now its time to develop these new soft skills that all the great leaders have. I often tell Clients that the top of the ladder you were on is really only the bottom of the next Ladder.

To finish, a great quote drawn from chapter 2.42 – 2..44 of Bhagvad Gita

When the mind is fully occupied with thoughts of pleasure and power of the position, and when the mind is fully occupied with multiple desires and always thinking of gains that will arise, setting out great vision becomes a tough job. Because to set a great vision the mind must be great mood. The intellect of setting great vision is NOT formed in the mind of such people who are grossly attached to the fruits of action…

Aidan Higgins

How to spot an Emotionally Intelligent Leader

emotional intelligenceResearch has shown us that more than 90% of top leadership performers have a high amount of emotional intelligence or EI. The higher up the ladder that leaders are, the more people they impact and their EI becomes increasingly important. The person at the top sets the atmosphere that permeates the organization, including the emotional temperature.

Not only does a leader with low emotional intelligence have a negative impact on employee morale, it directly impacts staff retention. We know that the biggest reason that people give for leaving an organization is the relationship with those above them.

Below are five ways to spot an emotionally intelligent boss:

1. NON DEFENSIVE AND OPEN
Insecure leaders that demonstrate low EI become defensive and take it personally whenever they encounter anything that appears to them as criticism and a challenge to their authority. A secure leader with a healthy dose of emotional intelligence strives to listen, understand and find out what is behind behaviors and actions of those they are responsible for managing. They listen before they respond and if they don’t understand something ask open-ended questions that are meant to gather more information. As opposed to leaders with low emotional intelligence, they don’t make it about them, but look for ways to make the situation better for everyone involved.

2. AWARE OF THEIR OWN EMOTIONS
Leaders who are oblivious to their own emotions and how they are impacted by them have no awareness of how their words and actions affect others. This can have a very devastating effect on staff morale and lower productivity. Highly emotionally intelligent leaders are aware of strong emotions and avoid speaking out of anger and frustration. If they feel the urge to give in to strong emotions in their interactions with others, they give themselves a time out, waiting until their emotions have leveled off and they have had a chance to think about the situation.

3. ADEPT AT PICKING UP ON THE EMOTIONAL STATE OF OTHERS
A skilled and empathetic leader that is aware of others’ emotions is able to use that awareness to develop stronger relationships with those they manage. Even if delivering bad news, they are able to cushion the impact by simply letting the receiver know that they are aware of how they might be feeling. Leaders with high EI are able to put themselves in the place of the person receiving criticism or negative feedback, allowing them to give it in a way that might be more beneficial and less destructive.

4. AVAILABLE FOR THOSE REPORTING TO THEM
Good leaders make themselves available to those reporting to them both physically and emotionally. They are responsive to the fact that there will be times that those reporting to them will be having difficulties outside of work that will impact them. Death of family members, friends, relationship breakdowns, and all sorts of life crises will affect virtually everyone at work at times. Emotionally open and secure leaders understand are there for support during these times.

5. ABLE TO CHECK THEIR EGO AND ALLOW OTHERS TO SHINE
While possessing self-confidence, high EI leaders do not have a need to demonstrate their own importance or value. They chose their words carefully and speak and act out of concern for their staff, and the health of the organization. They do not have the need to have their ego massaged and are not looking for ways to take credit for the work of others. Understanding that people work better when they feel appreciated, they are always looking for ways to give positive feedback and rewards for a job well done. Secure in their own abilities, they are not threatened by those under them and actively seek to help them work to the best of their capabilities and rise up the organization.

This article was originally published by Harvey Deutschendorf  on fastcompany.com

Developing Emotional Intelligence delivers better Leadership at Fedex.

FedexWe all need Authentic Leadership in times of constant change. This case study about Fedex, recently published (Jan 2014) by  Fedex’s Global Leadership Institute (their in-house training centre) and SixSeconds (USA) has some very interesting metrics. At Adeo we provide customised Authentic Leadership Programs which focus on developing Leaders Emotional Intelligence and reframing the role of Leadership as well as introducing leaders to new leading edge Leadership Styles.

Fedex had measured results on the benefits of Emotional Intelligence from previous programs in the mid Noughties which encouraged FedEx to increase the emotional intelligence focus of their leadership training and deliver a new  course to put EQ into action at the frontlines. All new FedEx Express managers would receive the program to provide a solid people-first foundation upon which to build their leadership careers.

The FedEx Team delivered a five-day course with a six-month follow up coaching process. In an extremely faced-paced, task-focused environment, a common challenge for managers is losing sight of the relational dynamics that ultimately sustain team performance. To build a team where people give their “discretionary effort,” task-based management is insufficient: people-leadership is required. This means forming a connection between people at an emotional level.

Emotional Intelligence Leadership

Emotional intelligence provides the insight and skill to allow for this strategic use of feelings. The program helped new managers focus on how emotional intelligence will assist them to show up as leaders by managing themselves first, taking charge of their own emotions and behaviors so they can be effective role models and influencers.

Leadership Emotional Intelligence Development Results

Initial responses to the program are extremely positive with managers showing increased ability to push the FedEx strategy and the “People First” leadership philosophy. In the words of a program participant, one of FedEx’s people stated:

Emotional Intelligence Improvements

“I began the week realizing that I was limiting myself with a single leadership style and an emotional intelligence level that was preventing me from reaching my full potential, particularly in stressful situations. I learned how to apply different leadership styles to meet specific situations, apply consequential thinking, and continue to improve my emotional intelligence. I am already applying this new found knowledge in my day to day work environment as well as my personal life.”

Overall  the largest major improvements were in:

Decision Making where 72% made major improvements.

Quality of Life 60% made major improvements.

Influence 58% made major improvements.

At Adeo we work with Leaders in groups or one to one sessions, building key leadership skills that are proven to improve both employee engagement and bottom line results. We have witnessed huge improvements in key Leadership skills that impact performance and success in work and personal life.

Aidan Higgins

Source for Fedex Study ©Six Seconds – 6seconds.org

Authentic Leaders seek first to understand then to lead

We meet leaders all the time, everywhere. There are some so passionate about their purpose that we would follow them at the drop of a hat, believing in their cause. I met a Social Entrepreneur recently who was so passionate about what he did that I immediately questioned the value in what I was doing and began to visualise how I could become part of his vision. He told me what he did, the positive impact it made and how he jumped out of bed each day to get to work.

It’s a vision thing folks and we know this. But it’s vision with connection, perspective and awareness that works. ironically for a “vision” thing we feel it from leaders. Rather than see it.  It comes from three centres; the body, the emotion and the mind. The mind sets the plan, the emotion fires the passion and the body exudes the belief. Walking the talk.

Authentic leaders work from all three centres. Sometimes not even knowing it. Ever see a great sales pitch? The best have three centre principles – passion, vision and belief. We don’t remember what people say we remember how they make us feel. Martin Luther did not say “I have a plan” he said. “I have a dream”.

Before leaders get there, they must become aware of what they believe. Handing down the party line to followers doesn’t motivate followers, it doesn’t connect. Often leaders are so focused on goals and success ( because they think it’s right and that’s all performance is)  that they forget what they believe and who they are and this limits their ability to connect with people, to engender motivation and to drive engagement. Their team becomes a box ticking group of clock watchers and bonus driven automatons.

Leaders need to remember that they as well as their people need a higher purpose, a great big powerful why. The great leader then drives autonomy, mastery and efficacy amongst followers who become greater than the same of their parts. Happier, more engaged and more effective in everything they do.

How’s that for a vision for your organisation for 2014!

Aidan Higgins

Emotional Intelligence and Leadership – Daniel Goleman

Emotional Intelligence and Leadership

Iemotional Intelligence Differentiatest was Daniel Goleman who first brought the term “emotional intelligence” to a wide audience with his 1995 book of that name, and it was Goleman who first applied the concept to business with his 1998 HBR article, reprinted here. In his research at nearly 200 large, global companies, Goleman found that while the qualities traditionally associated with leadership—such as intelligence, toughness, determination, and vision—are required for success, they are insufficient. Truly effective leaders are also distinguished by a high degree of emotional intelligence, which includes self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill.

These qualities may sound “soft” and unbusinesslike, but Goleman found direct ties between emotional intelligence and measurable business results. While emotional intelligence’s relevance to business has continued to spark debate over the past six years, Goleman’s article remains the definitive reference on the subject, with a description of each component of emotional intelligence and a detailed discussion of how to recognize it in potential leaders, how and why it connects to performance, and how it can be learned.

Every businessperson knows a story about a highly intelligent, highly skilled executive who was promoted into a leadership position only to fail at the job. And they also know a story about someone with solid—but not extraordinary—intellectual abilities and technical skills who was promoted into a similar position and then soared.

Such anecdotes support the widespread belief that identifying individuals with the “right stuff” to be leaders is more art than science. After all, the personal styles of superb leaders vary: Some leaders are subdued and analytical; others shout their manifestos from the mountaintops. And just as important, different situations call for different types of leadership. Most mergers need a sensitive negotiator at the helm, whereas many turnarounds require a more forceful authority.

Goleman has found, however, that the most effective leaders are alike in one crucial way: They all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but mainly as “threshold capabilities”; that is, they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions. But his research, along with other recent studies, clearly shows that emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership. Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he or she still won’t make a great leader.

In the course of his research, Goleman and his colleagues and  focused on how emotional intelligence operates at work. They examined the relationship between emotional intelligence and effective performance, especially in leaders. And they have observed how emotional intelligence shows itself on the job. How can you tell if someone has high emotional intelligence, for example, and how can you recognize it in yourself? He spent a lot of time exploring these questions, taking each of the components of emotional intelligence—self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill—in turn.

 

Evaluating Emotional Intelligence

Most large companies today have employed trained psychologists to develop what are known as “competency models” to aid them in identifying, training, and promoting likely stars in the leadership firmament. The psychologists have also developed such models for lower-level positions. Goleman analyzed competency models from 188 companies, most of which were large and global and included the likes of Lucent Technologies, British Airways, and Credit Suisse.

In carrying out this work, his objective was to determine which personal capabilities drove outstanding performance within these organizations, and to what degree they did so. He grouped capabilities into three categories: purely technical skills like accounting and business planning; cognitive abilities like analytical reasoning; and competencies demonstrating emotional intelligence, such as the ability to work with others and effectiveness in leading change.

To create some of the competency models, psychologists asked senior managers at the companies to identify the capabilities that typified the organization’s most outstanding leaders. To create other models, the psychologists used objective criteria, such as a division’s profitability, to differentiate the star performers at senior levels within their organizations from the average ones. Those individuals were then extensively interviewed and tested, and their capabilities were compared. This process resulted in the creation of lists of ingredients for highly effective leaders. The lists ranged in length from seven to 15 items and included such ingredients as initiative and strategic vision.

When he analyzed all this data, Goleman found dramatic results. To be sure, intellect was a driver of outstanding performance. Cognitive skills such as big-picture thinking and long-term vision were particularly important.

When Goleman calculated the ratio of technical skills, IQ, and emotional intelligence as ingredients of excellent performance, emotional intelligence proved to be twice as important as the others for jobs at all levels.

This Blog article is based on an article “What makes a leader” from the Harvard Business Review 2004

Re-Learning Leadership

Learning LeadershipIt is said that we learn our parenting skills from our parents. We learn from what we observed in childhood. We are also impacted by the culture we were part of and the environment in which we lived. Parenting is often instinctual and we distinguish right and wrong from our values system which often gets severely tested, especially when our children start to have minds of their own and are developing their own system of values. The day you say “because I said so” can be a real turning point for some.

Leaders often learn the same way. Learning Leadership involves spending a lot of time absorbing behaviours from our leaders, in a culture that influences (but of which we might be unaware) and in, usually, one environmental context. Unlike most parenting skills perhaps the skills and behaviours used when we were learning leadership are not appropriate now – but as leaders we still do or “go with” what we know. In the last four decades the organisational context has flipped over every 10 years – grow, cut back, grow, cut back. On top of that each generation of workers gets more knowledgeable, more technological, has different motivations and owns more of the key competencies and skills of the organisation.

An interesting recent article in the Economist  commenting on the Anthropologist David Grabers article “Bullshit Jobs” points out that this trend will continue. As more competitive advantage will come from the interaction between skilled workers and the coming technologies more repetitive jobs will be automated. So more and more of the “power” will move from centralised control and command to the outer edges of the organisation. We have discussed this before in our story about the US Navy and their understanding of the importance of empowerment following modern changes in warfare technology.

So do leaders who have learned skills from their forebears and from older cultures and older contexts adapt? Well some do. And many don’t. There are many addictive qualities to the old authoritarian style and egalitarian behaviour. But this just doesn’t cut it in a modern organisation. Disappointing results from the US in the recent Gallup report (2013) on the US workplace noted that while it has been proven that employee engagement is absolutely key to organisational performance – poor engagement is costing the US 450 billion to 550 billion dollars annually. It also shows that different generations require different engagement (therefore leadership) practices. Often however the strategy is akin to the old saying – “When all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail” – we do what we have always done because we stay inside our comfort zone.

So what do leaders do? We need to become more transformational and also more authentic. We need to update our skills but also change who we are as leaders. This can be done with gaining understanding, getting a change in perspective, observation and developing those required behaviour changes. This is not the same as those standardized management skills often sold as “Leadership Training”. The good news is that some leaders are changing. Reports from the US show that 43% of CEOs and 71% of Senior Executives say they’ve worked with a coach. And 92% of leaders being coached say they plan to use a coach again.

I work with leaders. I talk with leaders. I know fear of change is often a big obstacle. Time is also a big issue but sometimes an excuse. The feeling that you are handing over your power to others can be scary. However the power is shifting in any case and a new form of leadership is required. I often find leaders trapped by assumptions who can easily transform their leadership if shown the way. Remember the old adage “where there is a will there is a way”. But first you need the will.

Aidan Higgins

Leadership Development – is leadership doing or being?

Leadership DevelopmentWorking in Leadership Development as I do, I find a lot of material on leadership skills. There are countless advisors pointing out what leaders need to do – top ten of this, top ten of that, the five most important the other. A lot of this information is correct and well intended too but most of this is about what a leader must “do” to become  successful. Little of it is about who to “be”.

There have been a number of Leadership models over the years, some of which now look ridiculous in the light of modern psychology and some which would never have worked leading people who have a strong sense of self and view of life  and completely reject the “I told you so” philosophy. Generations such as X, Y and the Millenials need to clearly see the vision and to trust their leaders to become engaged with the goals of the organisation. This is particularly true of knowledge workers, where the core knowledge and key competencies of the organisation are in their hands.

Many leaders at the top of organisations or leaders who are in charge of large teams are task oriented, and often they love a list to tick off to feel they are moving forward. Its all do do do – “Today I will make sure I will do some trust building exercises with my people”, and “tomorrow I will act more Authentic.” I am reminded of the old line  about sincerity … “The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.”

Leadership Development -Emotional Intelligence and Leadership Brand

I have found over the years that good leadership development results come from working at the core  – so that improving it means working from the inside out. Working on Emotional Intelligence is one part of this – and improves leadership through awareness of the  emotional environment, awareness of the needs of others and the ability to connect with people on an emotional level. This is necessary to lead others and to gain the trust required, particularly for difficult times.

Leadership development should also focus on leadership brand,  a second key facet, which is the leader understanding what they represent and being true to that. This has been coined “leadership brand” and is something very important to followers – “What is this person about?” “Can I trust them?” “Are they all about the results or do they care about me?” “How do I know?” “Is what they say consistent with what they do?”

The pathway to success in leadership is therefore for the Leader to “Walk the Talk” to “Become” rather than to “Get” and to “Be” rather than to “Do”.

Aidan Higgins