An evolving leadership development journey
By Declan Noone
A recent article by Eric Garton in the Harvard Business Review ‘What if companies managed people as carefully as they manage money?’ kicked off a chain reaction in my thinking. To achieve what he proposes is not merely about putting the right processes in place, or establishing the appropriate metrics, both of which are in important. It is more fundamental than that. To achieve the goal of having companies managing people (human capital) as carefully as they manage money requires a paradigm shift in how we develop and educate leaders.
Leadership Development should be an important strategic investment for any company. Yet the research says otherwise, see Figure 1. The importance companies place on having the ‘right’ leadership within their organisation, and the expectation that this leadership, at all levels, will drive performance, productivity and profitability, is significant. Yet it is not seen as a strategic priority by many. There is a cost to this, and if you examine many of the Gallup polls on employee engagement you will see some of those costs.
Our Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous world is dynamic. Leaders are required to encourage performance and to create the context for growth, innovation and performance in a flourishing organisation. They are to lead by example, learn through experience, and evolve with the changing circumstances.
Developing a leader capable of delivering on such lofty expectations requires providing them with a broad range of skills, to not only cope, but to perform in the real world. Consequently, you need to develop their knowledge of:
- ‘self’ (values, behaviours, strengths, etc)
- their cognitive capacities (critical thinking, behavioural decision making, behavioural fitness)
- group dynamics (cooperation, participation, diversity, empathy, respect)
- positive communication
- Technical skills
In Serrano 99, experiential learning is the at the very heart of our positive and mindful leader development. For us, developing a positive and mindful leader is an evolutionary process, rather than a singular moment in time. We seek to impart knowledge (knowing) to leaders; give them time to apply this knowledge in their daily lives (doing); so that they begin to evolve as an individual and leader through having those experiences and reflections (being). In essence, our approach is about empowering the evolution of an individual into a positive and mindful leader through, Knowing: Doing: Being.
Regardless of the topic, the ‘knowing, doing, being’ approach enables the individual leader to cement what they have learned into their own leadership style. The knowledge they have gained, like so many other things, does not remain on a shelf. In fact, the requirement to directly apply what has been taught to their daily life ensures that it more likely to be retained and reused. Why? Because this knowledge becomes modified and personal to the individual. They can see what works for them and why it does. It is no longer an abstract theory, it is a personal practice. Furthermore, ‘knowing, doing, being’ is not linear, it is a continuous process, where through regular use, the leaders journey never stagnates, it continues to evolve.
In Serrano 99, we work with our clients to provide the right training and intervention, targeted to the right audience, in a generative manner. This is why our focus is on ‘co-creation’. For our positive and mindful leadership programmes to have a continued and sustained impact we always work with those closest to the coal face (at all levels), to extract their knowledge and insights, and use them to infuse our leadership development programs with the right material, at the right time, for the right audience.