These are the thoughts and takeaways written by our partners Chemistry Consulting from the last Talent Think Tank, the UK’s largest face to face networking group for senior strategic focused talent professionals. For further information and insight please contact its co-founder Jeremy at Oasis HR – 0207 11 88 444 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Organisation’s today exist in a whirlwind of change, economic pressures and technological challenges that tug and pull in all directions. Navigating and driving business through this requires clear strategy, leadership, and resilience to engage and inspire the organisation forward. Developing leadership excellence is therefore pretty crucial to ensure today’s leaders are up to the challenge. So the question is, how do you engage leaders to develop their capability?
At last week’s Talent Think Tank we raised this very question. Following some honest conversations, we came up with a few ideas that have worked previously to enhance leadership engagement in development programmes. Here are my top ten take-home messages following this session:
- Gain commitment from the MD and Senior Executives
Ensure the MD believes in and drives key expectations and messages to their leaders. This delivers a clear statement of priority to inspire leaders to engage.
- Change conversations
Talk about value rather than cost to gain ‘buy-in.’ Ask difficult questions to form the business case; why are we doing this? What happens if we don’t do this? The associated risk with not acting then highlights the value.
- Provide a reality check
Provide leaders with feedback from people within the business to understand what the real issues are. This prompts the decision to take action and responsibility, and creates a sense purpose.
- Cause a stir
Inject energy and belief to startle and raise awareness. Prepare leaders for dips in engagement and energy, and how to overcome them – “the hero’s journey.”
- Leaders can teach leaders
Capitalise on existing resources. This promotes context specific learning, opens communication channels, and increases social support to transfer and sustain positive behaviour change.
- Leaders must own their development
Create and encourage communities to drive and own their development rather than HR policing it. Behaviour change does not happen through compliance.
- Create meaning and intent
Incentivising is not enough. Connect personal values and emotion to the experience of developing and change.
- Remove labels
Change the typical labels of leadership development and allow leaders to define it within what it means for them.
- Enable a safe environment
Allow leaders time and space in a fresh and safe environment away from the business to practice, make mistakes and learn new skills and behaviours.
Reinforce and remind leaders of their commitment. Refresh leaders with new content, experience and basic behaviours to address. Connect leaders with their support network to share the experience.
So maybe not quite so simple, however these points discussed represent a starting point of conversations, language, values and opportunity to improve the way that leadership development is understood and delivered within business to have real impact. Ultimately, if leaders engage with their development to become great, there will be greater alignment of values, purpose and goals between the strategy and people. In turn this can evolve a positive company culture that can drive, energise and sustain organisational performance.
As practitioners working with these challenges, it is important not to forget our own responsibility to develop our own capability too. The points raised in this blog capture an abundance of knowledge, experience and ideas shared from different industries, backgrounds, and key people across the UK. This leave me on my final point, that simply by sharing and learning from others we can provide ourselves with an opportunity to gain support, see fresh perspective and drive our own engagement to develop ourselves further.