How to Develop Better Leaders

How to Develop Better Leaders
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Most Companies Need to Develop Better Leaders
Unfortunately, most corporate leaders are not ready to lead their teams or to make effective decisions when the stakes are high.  Research by CEB found that almost two-thirds of new leaders underperform during their first two years, and only 1-in-10 respondents to a recent McKinsey survey said their companies are effective at preparing leaders to lead.  Our own leadership simulation assessment data tells us that companies need to develop better leaders if they wish to achieve their business AND people objectives.

Whether you are new to your leadership role or you have had lots of experience leading others, wouldn’t you agree that you can always get better? In looking at the best corporate leaders we have come across in more than three decades working with clients from a variety of organizations, small and large, and representing multiple industries, we have compiled a list of “basics” for what it takes to be better at leading others.

The Mindset of a Great Leader
If you aim to be admired by your workers as a great leader and to fully engage them in the purpose of your organization, you first need to show up as a leader with the right mindset and attitude that commands respect and loyalty because you care about your team, are open to new ideas and learning, communicate clearly, have integrity, focus on developing others, and have a knack for seeing the big picture.

To develop better leaders, first assess leadership strengths and weaknesses and then use targeted action learning leadership development programs  to ensure that they can effectively and consistently:

  • Communicate
    Great leaders are great communicators.  They model open, relevant, honest, direct, audience-centered, and respectful communication – especially when the stakes are high. They know how to listen well and make it easy for others to give them feedback on how to do things better.

    Their example encourages employees to communicate in the same way and to welcome ideas that promote innovation and collaboration at work.

    Can you leaders communicate clearly with energy and passion?
  • Build Relationships
    Great leaders build long-term internal and external relationships.  They understand that positive relationships are based on trust. They follow through on commitments and hold themselves accountable for their behavior.

    They create psychological team safety and do not consider themselves “holier than thou” but as part of a team that works together toward a common goal.

    Can your leaders build trusting relationship with various stakeholders across functions and at multiple levels?
  • Motivate and Develop Others
    Great leaders inspire and influence employees to move work forward.  They ensure that people have the context, knowledge, skills, and experience to be successful and to grow in their careers. They provide meaningful opportunities to learn and grow are able to engage their followers to do their best while taking on new and challenging stretch assignments.

    Can your leaders motivate teams to perform at their peak?
  • Expand their Perspective
    Great leaders are not myopically task-oriented. They ensure that the job gets done, but they always think about and connect their employees to the big picture.  They design people and business strategies for the present and help their teams to anticipate and adapt to changes as they come.

    Do your leaders scan the broad environment inside and outside the organization to gain strategic insights into how to move the business and their people forward?
  • Do What’s Right
    The best leaders always try to do what’s right. They have high standards for their behavior and are guided by a strong moral code. They don’t allow the pressures of workplace politics, time, or money to affect their judgment. 

    Do your leaders follow your corporate values and set a good example?

The Bottom Line
Effective leaders become so over time and with conscious effort and support. With a clear picture of what it takes to develop a better leader, how does your leadership development program compare?

To learn more about how to develop better leaders, download How to Fast Track Your Leaders with Just-in-Time Action Learning

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