Leadership development and the Boss

December 20, 2017 by Wally Bock

Leadership development and the boss

Leadership development is often the domain of the specialist. What role should a supervisor play? Stanford professor Bob Sutton reviewed the research on the importance of a person’s immediate boss and came to the following conclusion:

“Employees’ immediate bosses have far more impact on engagement and performance than whether their companies are rated as great or lousy places to work. Related research shows that good bosses are especially crucial to employee performance in otherwise lousy workplaces.”

Wow. So, how important are those same bosses in leadership development? Dr. David Ballard, is the Director of the American Psychological Association’s Center for Organizational Excellence, He reviewed the findings of the Association’s 2017 Job Skills Training and Career Development Survey for the Harvard Business Review. The article was “Managers Aren’t Doing Enough to Train Employees for the Future.” There’s a lot of information in the article. Here’s the golden nugget when it comes to bosses helping their people develop.

“For employees who lack supervisor support and encouragement for career development, only 15% say they their employer is providing them with opportunities to develop the technical skills they will need in the future, only 20% say their employer provides training in necessary “soft skills,” such as teamwork and communication. Just 8% report having the opportunity to develop necessary leadership and management skills. With a supportive supervisor, those numbers jump to 75% and higher.”

Leadership development is a natural high leverage activity

Leadership development is something a boss can do naturally, in the course of the workflow. There are all kinds of benefits. People are happier and more engaged at work. Aspiring leaders are more likely to step up for more formal leadership development. Everybody wins.

For that to happen, you must give your supervisors the tools to help their people develop. Development must be a key dimension of their performance at evaluation time. And you must provide a culture where leadership development is a highly valued activity.

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

Posted in Leadership Development

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