An agile learner is in the practice of constantly testing the existing skills, as well as developing new ones
Successful leaders recognise what is important for them, the business and the individuals in their teams
An aspiring leader in any company is one who is constantly looking for opportunities to develop his or her skills. It makes sense in this context that if we want to do the best for our customer, we need to be the best that we can be.
Any company that believes in building leaders helps its people to reach their full potential. In my experience, whenever we have asked employees what they really want from their work, most often the answer is that they want to do a great job and have the ability to grow. Development is a basic need for people, and if an organization does not take it seriously, it is not likely to survive.
The best performers are always hungry for new knowledge and experiences. They are clear thinkers who are agile learners, and can quickly apply new knowledge to action. Most importantly, they are able to deliver results, even in new situations. Along with the need to enhance their knowledge base, agile learners also look for challenges and continuously push themselves outside of their comfort zone. Pushing oneself to try new avenues can be a little daunting if one is accustomed to success, but it is undeniably a trusted way to build confidence and upgrade oneself with changing times. An agile learner is in the practice of constantly testing the existing skills, as well as developing new ones. Their inclination to do better pushes them to seek feedback on their performance, so they can steadily improve the quality ladder in whatever they undertake.
Inculcating a commitment to learning is tougher than it sounds. We are all busy people with constant demands on our time and attention. It is one thing to consider talking with clients or employees about their needs or reading a thought-provoking book or taking a course to sharpen our skills, but how often do we actually make the time to do these things?
When developing leaders, an organization should look for four key attributes:
• Critical thinkers who examine problems carefully and make fresh connections
• Individuals who know themselves well and are able to handle tough situations deftly
• Those who like to experiment and can deal with the discomfort that surrounds change
• Deliver results in first-time situations through team building and personal drive
An organization which is serious about building leadership will look for people who aspire to be leaders and try to create a diverse mix of skills, background and talent. Such an organization will place a strong emphasis on growth and development, giving every employee a fair opportunity to talk about their career plans and their potential opportunities. An organization seeking to build and encourage leadership, should keep in mind the following:
• New employees learn about the values and corporate responsibility program through the induction program.
• The performance management process should enable the organization to development a plan for each aspiring leader and ensure he/she receives the right training and development.
• Use a variety of training methods, for example, development centers, 1:1 coaching, management skills programs and more.
• Offer a platform for innovative eLearning.
It is important that all employees feel that their talent and contribution is recognized, for which every leader and manager is responsible for creating the environment where employees can give their best, feel valued, and build competitive skills for the future.
Team leaders play an important role in nurturing leadership by creating a learning environment within the team and helping employees find their strengths, as well as learn how best to apply them. A team leader is able to set the tone for leadership development by encouraging an environment where the deserving are praised and allows the team to beat any challenge it is faced with.
Successful leaders recognize what is important for them, the business and the individuals in their teams. The organization must support their leaders, reward them for successfully developing their teams and encourage regular feedback between leaders and the team members.
Another key aspect of building leadership is to attract and retain the best available talent. A company must have a fair recruitment policy to attract the right people. Getting the right people onboard will further strengthen the leadership pipeline of the company.
To enable people to attain their full potential, they need to be exposed to new experiences. At Aviva, employees can choose from a number of development approaches based on what is most appropriate for them at the time. While the ratios differ from companies to companies, Aviva aims for effective development through a 70:20:10 ratio (70 per cent learning from experience - projects, assignments, moving within areas; 20 per cent learning through others - feedback, coaching, mentors; and 10 per cent learning from instruction - formal courses, reading, online articles)
In order to successfully build leadership within the company, it is essential that all employees embody the company values at all times, and the company should provide a culture of strong individual and team performance, in order to facilitate leadership development. Every member must be engaged and excited with their role in the overall success of the company, and this can be achieved through effective leadership, fair rewards, and listening to employees, before acting on feedback.
Success factors of leadership
building at Aviva
1. The promise: Enabling every employee to say “At Aviva I am recognized for who I am, and what I contribute matters.”
2. The values: Performance, Progressiveness, Teamwork and Integrity, capture day-to-day behaviors, in dealing with each other and with our customers.
3. The customer: Bring prosperity and peace of mind to our customers through our vision – ‘One Aviva’.
4. Leadership: Leaders provide inspiration for teams to flourish. We reward leaders for their success in developing teams and encourage regular feedback between leaders and team members.
5. Career Development: Help employees to maximize their potential – through growth and development initiatives, and the opportunities of working across the globe.
6. Praise and Recognition: Recognize each individual’s talent, and help people develop their strengths constantly.
7. Treating People Fairly: Fair treatment to everyone - employees and customers.
8. Teamwork: Work together to maximize our potential.
9. Diversity: Provide the opportunity to work with people from diverse cultures and backgrounds.
10. Corporate responsibility: Lead the way in environmental and social responsibility, and expect our partners to hold the same standards.
Sandip Mallik is Director - HR, Aviva India