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Developing Leaders to Face the Future


Never have we needed great leadership more than today, to build a future we can rely upon.

This was the subject of our latest HR Leaders session with Claire Walton from Leaders are Making A Difference

In the session, Claire asked us to consider a number of angles on Leadership Development. Here are some of the questions we considered.

What is the purpose of Leadership Development?

  • Focus on Business Strategy Requirements with a specific outcome at the heart of it.
  • Do not have a list of standard options to choose from. Make sure your development options are aligned to the current and future business needs.
  • Focus on diving deep to transform a few critical behaviours.
  • Consider: What will really move the needle in your organisation?

Note: Research, surveys and experts such as those from Harvard Business Review and McKinsey & Company warn that, despite the huge investments, the majority of these programs fail to deliver the results that were hoped for.

Who should you prioritise your Leadership Development for?

  • We identified prioritising Critical leaders & Rising Stars

Who should Lead/Sponsor and contribute to your Leadership Development?

  • Identify your Star Leaders and have them lead the development
  • If using external support make sure they have also practiced leadership themselves

Do you have a leadership learning community?

  • We talked about integrating individualised at-work action learning.
  • Leadership development must have immediate practical application.
  • Follow a cadence of learn, reflect, apply, and teach and it is best to support with Action Learning Groups, Coaching and mentoring

Do you have a learning culture?

  • Create a learning culture, ‘no gain without pain’. For example, When we go to the gym and work out, often we feel the “burn.” We physically feel the pain. Yet we know that this is the way forward. If we want to build strength and resilience and learn new ways of moving, the pain is the absolute correct response of a healthy body. But when we look to grow as leaders, we tend to shy away from difficult or uncomfortable conversations with ourselves and we don’t want discomfort while we stretch to grow. Nonetheless, if we want our leaders to grow, we have to push them to work more deeply on themselves.
  • Encouraging Leaders to engage in leadership development can sometimes be difficult as they don’t always want to change. This analogy might work well with these people.

Is it aligned to your ideal culture?

  • The foundation of all leadership development needs to align back to your desired culture. For example:
  • All new-to-role leaders get a crash course on Novartis’ culture during Foundational Leadership Training, a one-week course that sets the stage for all of Novartis’ coaching-focused leadership development programs. The very first session focuses on what it means to be an inspired, unbossed, and curious leader, and how the mindset informs the new leader’s priorities and how they behave.

Do you actively promote self-awareness?

  • Invest in professional coaches and assessment tools
  • Conduct 360-degree reviews of your senior leadership

What are the current Content Trends?

  • Building a sense of purpose among a distributed and remote workforce
  • Leading innovation, primarily through digital acceleration
  • Leading through uncertainty
  • Cultivating trust
  • Re-skilling for opportunity:
    • Assess talent requirements through a future-focused lens
    • Foster an environment where teams continuously engage in the process of innovation and build digital fluency
    • Demonstrate command of top-line industry trends and metrics and anticipate change
  • Self-Leadership 
    • Make 2021 the year of self-compassion – leads to resilience. Being fundamentally happy with who you are – is the secret of compassionate, positive and effective leadership. This is because it leads to a “positive mindset, positive actions, positive leadership and a positive, committed and resilient organisational culture”.
    • Meditation/mindfulness
    • Ability to reflect and learn
    • Leading with compassion

You may also be interested in reading these articles from Forbes:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2020/09/08/how-to-ensure-your-leadership-development-programs-give-you-the-results-you-need/?sh=44fa55c27889

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2021/02/05/high-demand-capabilities-every-leader-must-master-and-market/?sh=20451b86257a

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