Leadership Skills Development for Executives, Managers and the Professions
Effective Organizations Produce Leaders
Organizations need effective leadership: Whatever their purpose or size, and whether they’re hierarchical in nature, or follow more egalitarian, innovative and open principles, all organizations nevertheless share one essential quality: they rely on the quality of their leadership, at every level. That’s because, more or less by definition, the thing that defines any organization is the set of collective goals that it’s organized towards, and effective leadership is the key component in achieving these goals most effectively and efficiently.
Leadership is Crucial to Achieve and Maintain Competitive Advantage
The nature of organizational undertakings varies immensely, as do organizational styles and cultures. But one thing is universal: the importance of a competitive advantage in a marketplace. To achieve and maintain a competitive advantage today requires ever-greater demands on organizations, requiring them to be flexible, proactive and creative, each of which is enabled by leadership at every level. Maximizing the leadership potential within an organization is a crucial element in achieving competitive advantage, and is where having a leadership development strategy and process becomes important.
Leadership Development vs. Management Development
Before discussing what leadership development entails, it might be wise to make clear what it is not. Leadership Development is not Management Development. Managers generally manage on the basis of a specific set of skills and formal authorities, and their roles can be clearly defined in terms of the chain of command and responsibilities in which they do their jobs.
Leaders can be managers as well, but they can also have roles that involve little or no formal authority, or stable and clearly-defined responsibilities. They will inspire other people, and get them to willingly organize their efforts in effective and collaborative ways. Managers can be Leaders, and Leaders are often Managers, but it is important to make the distinction. Sometimes managers could benefit from better leadership skills, and leaders could improve their effectiveness.
What is Leadership Development
Modern leadership development is about identifying people who have what it takes to lead, and helping them enhance the talents and skills that effective leadership demands. But it’s also about empowering organizations, enabling people to work together in focused and motivated ways, and about building the capacity of groups to deal with every sort of problem, expected or unexpected.
These seem like quite distinct goals – nurturing leadership and autonomy. But the key to understanding this paradox, and the challenge that modern leadership development represents, is contained in this truism of the leadership development industry: in an effective organization, effective leadership should be understood as being as much a result of effective organization as the source of effective organization. In other words, the most effective organizations don’t just follow leaders. They don’t even follow better leaders: they produce leaders!
Leadership Development is the activities and creation of an environment that increase the abilities and effectiveness and self-awareness required to create a vision, motivate, inspire, and accomplish.
There are two distinct elements to leadership; first, there are essential qualities, such as motivation and dedication and honesty, that will set potential leaders apart. These are not the qualities that will enable them to lead effectively, however. These qualities – Empathy, Communication Skills, Emotional Intelligence – are best embraced by everyone in an effective workplace.
Leadership Development is an Ongoing Process
The foundation of any really effective leadership strategy is the realization that building leadership is an ongoing process; it’s akin to maintaining a garden. A successful organization should expect to invest in leadership consistently and strategically, with emphasis on employees with the greatest potential, but not at the expense of ignoring the need to nurture an effective broader organization.