The key to the design of an effective leadership development process is to assure alignment with the organization’s culture, strategic direction, a leadership model and the business initiatives considered most critical to future success. A model stresses that the leadership skill development is learning how to master the process of skills development. To do that, we need a proper mixture of the feedback, the motivation, the practice and the theory.
The first essential element needed in an organization in order to be results-based is to have a compelling vision. This vision serves as the compelling force that creates the energy and focus on the direction and future of the organization. This represents the guiding light or direction of the organization. The vision should not be developed by the senior management team, and then passed down from above to the rest of the organization. The buy-in and commitment from the organization is enabled through the involvement of the other employees. This experience of developing the vision and strategy is a development opportunity for leaders as well, and it is a critical experience for the future leaders to have.
The second essential element needed in an organization in order to be results-based is to ensure there is alignment. It makes sense that when the goals of individuals in an organization are aligned with the overall vision of the organization; positive results are likely to occur. It is critical, however, that the operations of the organization are aligned to the strategic vision. What this means is that each department is not setting goals aligned to the vision in silos, separate from the organizational system, but is setting them together to ensure alignment and synergy.
The future leaders should be engaged in this process, as a means of further leader development. Total alignment is a much more involved and calculated process than simply displaying a plaque on the wall, or distributing a vision to the rest of the organization. When alignment is complete, everyone in the organization has goals and actions aligned with the vision that have been operationally set, and it is clear who does what and when. This takes the question of “What results” out of the picture, making it clear to everyone what we, as an organization, are focused on achieving.
This goal-setting process, and its follow-on goal-achievement process, helps the current leaders and future leaders to plan the steps and pull together the resources to make the vision happen. The goal-achievement process is necessary to convert any negative attitudes in the organization to positive ones. People feel good when they accomplish a task and achieve a goal. It builds confidence in people. Leadership development needs to include a series of goal-setting and goal-achievement for the development of leaders in their decision making, their confidence, and their attitudes.
The organization needs to have processes in place to address the ABC’s of behavior. The A’s represent the antecedents, which are represented by the vision, goals and expected ethical behaviors. The C’s represent the consequences for not achieving the goals. This can be positive or negative, or a mixture of both. The B’s represent the behaviors that are expected in order to achieve the positive results that are aligned with the goals. In order to develop leaders, this ABC infrastructure needs to be in place, and aligned with the vision and goals.
These processes and infrastructures become the leadership engine that can be used in the leadership development process. The vision, goals, action steps, responsibilities, accountabilities, consequences and time milestones for the achievement of the goals all point to what is important for all leaders: the achievement of results. As Peter Drucker stated, “Leadership is all about results.”
There has been concerted effort in recent years to integrate leadership development to human capital systems and develop methods for measuring the impact of the processes on different levels of the business. Of course, the evaluation of impact remains a highly desired, challenging, and somewhat elusive goal for most organizations. The majority of leadership development programs include some, if not all, of the following components: mentoring, coaching, assessment, action learning, instruction, and the use of internal leaders as instructors.
There is so much more to Leadership Development, we will discuss that in articles to come.