In the workplace it’s common practice for people to engage in growing and improving their hard skills. For example, an IT worker will learn how to operate new programs relevant to their field, in order to keep their skills current and up to date.
What’s not a common practice in the workplace is the development of soft skills, such as Leadership skills. A person in a Leadership role within their organisation may be appointed to that role with little to no training in Leadership and will remain in that role without further development.
The overlooked development of Leadership skills can at best result in a dysfunctional work environment and at worst result in catastrophic or even fatal events.
Often, it’s these negative experiences and events that bring attention to potential gaps in Leadership which need to be addressed through development.
It was yearly fatalities which led a large shipping company to engage in a LDP (Leadership Development Program) for 1,500 of its Leaders.
This company chose Barclayss® to deliver this LDP over a two-year period. Although fatalities and other incidents were the catalyst for change, the company’s culture was one of high fear with low retention of contractors.
By the end of the two-year LDP, the company had no fatalities (this is ongoing) and a high fear culture had transformed to a trust base culture and high retention of contractors.
Read more about this particular LDP and what it included in this case study: Contractor Management
Characteristics of Effective Leadership
Negative incidents shouldn’t be the only reason to engage in Leadership Development. LDPs can be beneficial for Leaders at any point, regardless of how well the organisation is or isn’t functioning.
If you’re unsure if an LDP is something you or Leaders in your organisation should embark on, assess how well these key characteristics of effective Leadership are represented by you or Leaders in your organisation.
Humility or Self-awareness
This characteristic is about knowing one’s own strengths and weaknesses.
Do you or your Leaders have self-awareness around areas where you are strong and where you are not as strong? Do you communicate these strengths and weaknesses to others openly with transparency?
This characteristic is about being able to manage your own emotions while also managing your relationships with empathy.
Do you or your Leaders act on emotion? Do you or your Leaders demonstrate empathy for others in trying circumstances?
This characteristic involves being able to consistently communicate in a way which inspires others and in turn motivates them. Are meetings a chore? Are people engaged when you or your Leaders speak to them?
Effective Feedback Giver
This characteristic is seen when specific information about a person’s performance is given, often in relation to a goal. Does giving feedback feel like a negative interaction? What are the common outcomes from feedback? Is it difficult entering a feedback conversation?
This characteristic is best embodied when effective questions are asked, and active listening is demonstrated. These qualities and characteristics make a Coach. Are you or your Leaders questions open or closed when speaking with others? Do you or your Leaders allocate time to speak with others at length?
Effective Leadership Development Programs
Unlike the development of hard skills which have defined and clear courses of learning, the development of Leadership skills is a personal and individualised journey.
Leaders may thrive in some of these effective Leadership areas yet falter in others. This is why the most effective LDPs are designed in collaboration with the Organisation and its Leaders.
An ‘off the shelf’ or ‘out of the packet’ LDP will not be effective in creating real change or positive outcomes in your organisation. Similarly, one off workshops are also not enough to create sustainable change or provide Leaders with the tools they need, and practice, to better their skills
In this blog we’ve discussed why an Organisation, or an Individual may decide to embark on a Leadership Development Journey. To find out what should be include in a well-designed LDP read our other blog post What is a leadership development program?