There have always been discussions and sometimes debates about 'Are Leaders born or are they Created?' While there are an umpteen number of examples about people who live around a belief that leaders are born (even if there are demonstrated Genetic failures), most of the significant leaders that have made difference to Social or Business world had very modest beginnings; and that too with demonstrated traits radically opposite to one’s Leadership development institutions propagate.
Leadership as I believe is ability to inspire and intent to make a difference. It can be Inspire to Act or Act to Inspire. Throughout my life I have spoken on Leadership in various contexts: - To inspire thoughts in not so privileged section of society as a teenager to some senior leaders of successful companies as a professional. However when thoughts and beliefs meet the demand of organizations (or industry at large), philosophy takes a guiding seat and Practical challenges take the steering wheel.
Following is an attempt to spell out few learnings of my professional journey. One ability amongst other I find the most important for Leaders is 'Ability to Challenge the Status quo and envision a better future' in any capacity; and hence 'Leadership Development ' is about creating an ambiance or journey for the potential future leaders (basis the exhibition of traits in current capacity) that gives them opportunities and insights about the context they are expected to lead in future.
1. Leadership and hence leadership development is all pervasive: - While it is true that very few leaders are visible in successful organizations, a successful organization can be only made if each level of responsible layers have Leaders. Leadership development at this large base is most important as those are the hands and faces of organization.
2. It's good to aspire strong leadership qualities at all level, but not all can be leaders in all domains: - It's important to respect the fact that each individual is different and so are strengths. This clarity needs to be reinforced at each stage of development right from coaching, training, assessing the leaders. Fancying that all Leaders be the copy of a coveted personality is one of the pitfalls people succumb to.
3. Development is an ongoing journey: - Leadership Development is more than being aware of certain competencies. It's about ability to demonstrate and live the competence desired for a role at the point in time in context. With the context constantly evolving, these competencies are also dynamic. Sometimes the definition of competencies evolve and sometimes they change.
4. Culture is the manure for growth: - Irrespective of the knowledge of change, few organizations are rigid about their How-about. In such organizations, the ratio of Development to rate of change in external context is not very encouraging.
5. Leadership Development is not only an HR prerogative: Each of the function and individual of the institution aspiring to be leaders in market need to contribute to the process of leadership development. It could range from time and efforts of HR (L&D), time from different leaders to mentor or coach the future leaders. The investment also can be the transparency and involvement of the operational layers to give adequate exposure to the investment of organization (the future leaders)
6. Competence building needs practice: - Leadership building cannot be an activity in to-do list of concerned. For a successful organizations it needs to be a way to BE.
Change in Leadership dimensions
It's been a long time that the philosophy of Leaders first has been carried on. However the next few years would be a new era in terms of Workplace. On one hand we will have 5 generations of people working together, on other would be the aspirations and energies of the young fresh grads who get bored easily, seek novelty in work. In such an era, Leaders will need to be more of a function rather than a role.
Leadership development is the contribution of today's stakeholders for a better tomorrow. It's a legacy to be left and I take pride in being one of the hand in formation of tomorrow!