LEADERSHIP A Corporate Cultivator’s Guide to Growing Leaders

In most western economies business leaders take their place alongside sports heroes and media personalities as models of success that majority of the populace admires and attempts to emulate. But here in New Zealand succession of conferences, surveys and articles has confirmed dearth of business leadership role models. It seems we are in desperate need of new generation of business leaders.
The Government has allocated funds through the Economic Development Ministry to investigate management capability, and the Leadership Development Centre was established year ago by public service chief executives to develop leadership capability across the public sector. But what can managers at the coal face do to address this deficit?

Great leaders
To grow future leaders, we need to understand their attributes. Great leaders:
* Have passion – they are the torch carriers for their company or their idea.
* Provide model behaviour – leadership by example.
* Gain commitments to common goals – they are consensus builders.
* Motivate people and teams – they are consistently ‘up’ and do not just drive people in order to achieve company objectives, but take real personal interest in those people they work with.
* Recognise favourable timing for their actions – eg when initiating major change they judge when it is best to slow down and let staff better assimilate the change.
* Recognise the strength of their opponents – ie when to have head-to-head competition, when to take time to differentiate their products or services or when to attack as weaknesses are uncovered.
* Have personal characteristics of honesty, competence, trustworthiness, influence and inspiration.
In summary they are knowledgeable, lead by example and coach others – or in the words of John Maxwell “A leader is one who Knows, Goes, and Shows the way.”
Growing future leaders depends on two key factors: The candidates must have the internal motivation to grow their own careers; and those in leadership positions must take responsibility for growing future managers and leaders.
The foundation for aspiring leaders is the leadership quadrant of personality, competencies, leadership style and leadership practices. Beyond that there are many things managers can do to grow their leadership careers.

Tips for leadership growth
Exceed expectations:
* Take on difficult work assignments and become willing volunteer for new projects.
* Offer to lead group discussions in the workplace. Effective and persuasive communication is the key attribute of effective and great leaders.
* Take the lead role in developing networks with your peers in the business community. This network will become powerful asset for most of your working life.
* Take lead role in your industry or profession.
* Offer to research opportunities, issues or problems. This is another way to demonstrate that you are willing volunteer and can help you to hone your report writing and verbal communication skills.
* Take every opportunity to speak in front of groups. (Make sure you have something worthwhile to say and you have practised presenting the information.)
* Practise leadership through excellence – everything you do should reflect your desire to become an outstanding leader.
* Give credit to others and don’t try to steal the glory. Great leaders build great teams.
* Have personal code of ethics that dictates your behaviour.
* Take the lead.
* Learn to read situations.
* Be persistent. Results will not necessarily be immediate. When you are leading change you are changing the culture and the “way things were always done.” Remember that if you provide short-term wins they will give validity to your overall change initiatives.
* Be willing to stand alone. If you have vision for your group or the company as whole and the passion to make it happen, make sure you set measurable goals. These goals must have timelines and you must always be working towards the accomplishment of those goals.
• Show lack of confidence. If there was blueprint to business every business would be successful. People sometimes need to make decisions without being 100 percent confident, and without all the information.

A career goal
You must have career goal. If not, you are just keeping busy on activities which may or may not help your leadership career.
Plan your successive career steps and implement them.
To effect personal change you must do self-evaluation of where you are as leader and then get feedback from peers, those who work for you and from those to whom you report.
Set and progress your short (one year) and long-term (subsequent two years) leadership development goals by following the actions below.
To help ensure the success of your plan:
1. Monitor your present behaviour – for at least 21 days. If you want to change you need to understand what you do currently.
2. Modify your environment. Change your surroundings, block out time to do planning, or move your desk. Your brain needs to realise that you are changing your habits.
3. Set specific goals and have timelines for their achievement. Inject those goals into your daily routine. It will take at least 30 days for these goals to form part of your new habit pattern.
4. Get feedback – use buddy system or coach. You don’t need to pay coach, but make sure you regularly meet with an objective person, and one who will keep you on track.
Research conducted in the US identified these four steps as critical in ensuring self-change programmes were successful.

Growing tomorrow’s leaders
Most of today’s leaders are those following behind the baby-boomers, but there is still huge gap between them and the mindset of Gen X & Y. The major differences in the younger group are:
• Expect more work-life balance and fun.
• Want more instant reward and recognition.
• Desire honesty and regular coaching style feedback.
• Expect company supported development.
• Recognise they have transportable skills and move readily. Loyalty is primarily to their career and not to an organisation.
• Image and status conscious – they like the accessories of success.
Remember, the old model of career progression is outdated. Rigid work structures have given way to more fluid post-industrial society driven largely by new technologies, global markets, low cost pricing pressures and competition. This new environment must be kept in mind when coaching and developing Gen X & Y leadership talent.
Performance evaluation is an obvious starting point in the process of developing future leader, then moving on to career development. The stages in the process are:
• How well is the person performing in their present role?
• What skills/experience will the person need in order to excel in that role?
• In discussion with him/her what is their agreed career path?
• What skills/experience will the person need in order to move to the next level?
• Are they grooming their successor in order to be able to move to the next level?
A career plan can be developed from answers to these questions. The plan will be both short and long term. Short term is the next 12 months – detailing the internal and external training and practical experience steps in order to move to the next level and long term does the same for the subsequent two years.
The practical things that can be done to develop others are:
• Hand out more senior level work assignments or projects. Coach the person through to successful conclusion in each case. Remember to coach and not ‘do’. If the person encounters problems let them come to you with the problem, two alternatives and recommendation as to which solution they prefer. Over time they will gain confidence and refer to you less and less.
• Encourage development of good judgement. Judgement comes from experience. In order to gain experience mistakes will happen. Mistakes should not be career threatening and the person must feel that they can come to you and talk through

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