Through our partnerships with clients, we have identified the common culprits behind why most leadership development initiatives fail to support company strategies and business results, but more importantly we have defined the success factors and a new approach that helps companies and their leaders achieve great performance and execution.
Defining Great Leadership
Traditional all-inclusive, leadership competency models slow execution because it’s theoretical, not grounded in the company strategy and lack focus, unnecessarily complex, slow to evolve and lack a forward-looking focus. Instead, we believe one secret to increasing leader’s ability to perform—and for companies to achieve great execution requires a new way of thinking about setting expectations. We believe in defining what ‘great’ leadership looks like for your company. In every key role, you have leaders who think, act and engage with employees, customers and stakeholders better than anyone else.
At some point, a person achieves “greatness” or high performance in their career. The next challenge is to help others get to that place faster. Helping executives define great for their leaders and critical roles in their organization is the first, crucial step to move the mean and transform a higher percentage of talent to be “great.”
Assessing Great Leaders
When high performance for critical roles is behaviorally defined via a “great” profile, your organization has the basis for a highly objective, quantifiable gap analysis that will pinpoint your top priority leadership needs.We believe in putting people in the kinds of situations they are likely to face today and in the future at their company, and assess their thinking, behaviors and skills. This is a better predictor of success than personality tests and the standard approach to assessment. The appropriate combination of assessment instruments will identify the organizational and individual leadership gaps required to enable your leaders to successfully execute your company strategy.
There are three core beliefs at the core of designing leadership development experiences that truly move the mean: Leadership is contextual, designed practice builds skills more effectively, and mindset rules.
At the core of “Experience Great” is a belief that Leadership is relentlessly contextual. How an engineering manager should lead a 12-to-18 month “waterfall” product development process is different from how an engineering manager should lead a six-week “agile” product release.
Exceptional leadership development programs—like perfect practice—must replicate real-world experience and design a practice that will lead to mastery. Leadership development programs must move beyond high-level, abstract discussions and engage leaders in the actual capabilities and behaviors most needed to be successful in their career.
We have seen the power of mindset, and we believe that it drives the actions and results in every company. At no other time is the power of past experiences and formed beliefs more powerful than when the most senior leaders of a company are faced with a new future state that will require them and the entire company to make major changes.
The leadership, training and consulting industry has driven little innovation to support a leader truly becoming great on the job. At best, leaders might walk away from a training program with a participant binder or even a reference app with the content they were taught in the classroom to make it more easily accessible. It is also rare that what is taught is also what is assessed in a 360, required for performance management and succession, and compensated with rewards and recognition. Often the expectations set by managers are different than then what is addressed in the leadership development program. These inconsistencies cause noise and a lack of focus on what the company needs most.
High impact support for execution of great leadership on the job can be created through the following:
- Expectations, learning and practice embedded in work tools - Imagine a “smart” calendar that sent you reminders of “what great looks like” when it recognized that you were having a one-on-one with a direct report, or holding an important offsite meeting.
- Practice as a service – Having an on-demand coach, who might be an executive in your company, whose job is to help you practice deliberately for an upcoming event by observing you in action and gives you helpful feedback.
- 'Great' playbooks for key meetings - Imagine a “great playbook” for a strategy-setting meeting, an alignment meeting, a negotiating meeting —the list is unique to your rhythm of the business.
- Collaborative and fun gaming - Imagine a “Creating the Future” game where leaders compete to create viable new business ideas to grow the firm. All can be part of an ongoing leadership development experience that continues to practice, scale and model great business and people leadership
- A 'great' dashboard – In a real case, store managers learned this new dashboard in a leadership development experience and then were given the tools to operate this dashboard back on the job, including fast access to data that gave them insights into the drivers of their store metrics.
Billions of dollars are spent annually on leadership development and it continues to be identified as a high priority need and a key gap every year in the Conference Board’s CEO research and in Bersin’s Human Capital reports. We believe it’s time for business leaders to take back the investment and development of their leaders – arguably the most valuable asset of their business. And we know that when you “Define Great, Assess Great, Experience Great and Execute Great”, you can move the mean on leadership performance and execution in your company. After all, it’s leaders at every level that develop and execute your strategies for success.