What is leadership development? When is it needed? Who is responsible for it? How do you develop it? And what are the benefits?
The responses of people “at the top” get longer and longer during their careers, according to research. Before you know it, as an executive or director, you are mostly sending. Then the fire of employees can go out. Because an important skill of leaders, besides making good decisions, is to be curious, to ask questions and to listen. In other words: creating a space in which you learn and develop leadership together. This starts with increasing your own awareness of the effect of your own behavior.
On leadership development.
Leadership development takes place on three layers: the growth of you as a person, of your executive team and leadership development of all your colleagues. Management is distinct from leadership. Management is about driving day-to-day processes. Leadership development is about continually increasing awareness: of your personal awareness and system awareness. So that you contribute more effectively to the purpose of the organization and do the right thing for society and the earth.
The meaning of leadership development is learning new perspectives and skills needed to move yourself, the organization and our society forward. In this, management differs from leadership:
Management: “Are we doing things right? Command & control.
Leadership: “Are we doing the right things? Sensing & responding.
Changes inside and outside your organization require new, serving responses and decisions each time. How do you then organize the relationships between people and departments? As a director, management team and organization, it is a constant process of learning and development. That makes it an art. And because it is always personal -connected to who you are at the deepest level- I speak of leadership as an art of living.
Leadership development is an ongoing process that requires constant attention, just like the maintenance of a house or office. When things are going well in your work, in your executive team and in your organization, you can ask yourself: how do I contribute to keeping it that way over time? With your answers, you build on maintaining your enjoyment, improving relationships and achieving meaningful results..
In addition, leadership development is needed when an impactful event occurs. In your executive team or organization, for example, this might be a merger, leadership change, scandal or a new direction. It shakes up the organization and challenges you as a leader: how did we get here, where are we now and how to proceed? It may also be that results are disappointing for a long time, there is high absenteeism or a constant negative atmosphere.
Leadership development may also be needed due to a major event in your personal life. For example, with a move from one place of residence to another, the loss of a loved one or a job, a new love relationship or just the ending of an old one, a burn-out or a new phase of life. Even then life asks questions: what now?
We also see major social issues that require leadership development. Global warming, pollution and loss of biodiversity are examples. We also see increasing unrest, uncertainty and anxiety in society, just like the development of AI and the pressure on all kinds of sectors. What do you want to mean in this
The short answer is: you. Not because you as a person are more special than your peers (I could be wrong, mind you ;-)), but because your position as a director or manager puts you in a unique place. You are authorized to make final decisions, which gives you a specific position of power. In the Netherlands we sometimes think power is a dirty word, but that’s just the way it is.
The people around you look at you. When you join the table, the conversation changes. Even if you are an accessible boss, you remain the boss. People listen to your words differently than those of other colleagues. And colleagues watch your behavior even more closely. If you say one thing and do another, the latter counts, whether you are aware of it or not. Your behavior is much more important than your words.
That makes leadership development take wings when the top of the organization starts with itself. In the past, I have supervised wonderful leadership development trainings and leadership programs in which middle managers and top talents developed. If they, with their enlarged awareness and newly learned behavior, get the lid on their noses in contact with their managers, the shutters quickly close again and they unlearn that new behavior at a rapid pace. Despite all the efforts of the HR department, the money and the time for beautiful courses, in practice very little changes. The ball is in your court.
With well-chosen small changes in your behavior, you can make a big difference. One example is a director I mentored. He led a linguistic, well-spoken organization and in his annual speech he decided not to tell a slick story, but now told a real story, about how he himself is learning and what he encounters in it. In doing so, he opened a new layer of contact: a symbolic space where employees can meet.
It shows that the organization can grow as far as where the leaders are. This is why you as a director or manager are so important. Who is responsible for leadership development?
Many advisors and consultants have written books on leadership development. From practical self-help books to management literature and world views. There are also many training, courses and courses in leadership development. The range is vast. Where do you start developing?
Again, the answer is: with yourself. Even if you do the smallest things differently, that alone creates a ripple effect in the organization. An important tool in organizational and cultural change therefore lies in your own behavior and beliefs. If you dare to learn, you give others on a subconscious and conscious level permission and encouragement to do the same, to be vulnerable and tread new paths. You contribute to the psychological safety needed.
As an executive team, you are an example to the whole organization. People look to you and react accordingly. If there is a lack of mutual trust, it can be felt between departments. So the first step in organizational leadership development is often to start working with your own team.
An important maxim in this is: contact before contract. First the relationship, then the content. After all, if things are right on a relational level, the content can often be tapped in no time. Investing in mutual trust pays off. If you know how to find each other and address each other on behavior, the entire organization will reap the benefits.
So what is a good time? It could be when a new team is being formed, or when tensions are rising, or before you embark on a new vision process.
When you have more visibility of your development as a management team, then you can keep expanding leadership development throughout the organization. This does not have to be chronological, as long as you are willing to look at yourself. In a sense, it is never too late for that, and certainly never too early.
Personal leadership development often involves working and living in a way that suits you, experiencing connection in relationships that are important to you, and experiencing meaning in life. Sometimes part of that is to come clean about experiences from your past, allowing you to feel more relaxed in the here and now. If I put it big: you get closer to your own being and walk your own life path, which often leads to a sense of peace, joy and fulfillment. The inner idea of “this is how it’s right.
Your personal challenges as a director or manager are closely related to the development opportunities of the organization. Which in many areas cannot grow beyond where the leadership is. Your leadership development in this context aims to inspire other people with your inner attitude, behavior and vision so that you contribute to meaningful results.
Leadership development in a broad sense leads to a healthy and strong organization where you together realize your mission. People feel connected with each other and the organization, know who does what and there is mutual trust. Employees work with inspiration, because the intention is clear and everyone’s qualities are called upon. This leads to pleasure in the workplace and more meaningful results for your target group and for society as a whole.
We meet, explore your situation and your question, and we outline the first steps of a strategy to achieve your goals. If desired, you will receive a proposal for a customized leadership program.
What do you want to develop? And what can a leadership program with Floris bring you?
Het kan er wel eens bij inschieten om stil te staan bij de echte vragen in het leven en leiderschap.
Ik bied je graag drie reflectiemomenten aan: je ontvangt ze per mail en ze duren een paar minuten.
Zodat je je dag daarna met aandacht en focus kunt continueren. En op termijn wellicht meer plezier en voldoening ervaart.
Zin in drie reflectiemomenten?
Uitschrijven kan altijd met één klik. Je gegevens zijn veilig en worden nooit met anderen gedeeld.
Then it can get away from time to time to dwell on the real questions in your life and leadership. This is what I regularly hear from directors and administrators who contact me.
That’s why I offer three reflection retreats. They are nano retreats of a few minutes that I send you by email. So that afterwards you can continue your day with pleasure and satisfaction.
I keep your information carefully and never share it with others. Unsubscribing can always be done with one click.