Leadership development: Helping old dogs learn new tricks

December 14, 2016 by Wally Bock

Andrea Derler wrote a fascinating piece in Bersin by Deloitte’s Business of Talent titled “A Look Ahead at Leadership 2016/2017.” Here’s one thing that jumped out at me.

“Leading others in the new world of work looks profoundly different from managing employees in previous decades. New generations entering the workforce pose major challenges for those in leadership positions holding on to outdated management styles and hierarchical position thinking.”

That sounds right to me. It also sounds challenging.

Leadership development to change leadership style

Most of the time when we write about leadership development it’s the “up, up, and away” challenge of helping young people mature and develop as leaders. Now you also have a new challenge: helping old dogs learn new tricks.

Leadership development and the forces of change

When we consider any kind of change there are four forces working inside us. Two of them move us toward the change. The other two work against the change. If you want to convince seasoned leaders to change, you should use all four forces.

Pull seasoned leaders toward change by demonstrating why they will benefit from doing things the new way. And push those leaders toward change by showing them how the way they do things now creates problems.

Most change programs address the two forces that move people toward change. But you’ll be more likely to succeed if you also do things to weaken the forces holding seasoned leaders back.

All those habits and successes that seasoned leaders have had doing things the old way is like the force of gravity. Give them time to realize how those things won’t work in the future and, probably, mourn a little.

They won’t tell you this, but most seasoned leaders are scared that they won’t be able to do things the new way. They need support and lots of small wins to help them develop the confidence to change.

Leadership development for a new day

Now you’ve got two challenges. You still must develop new leaders and help them grow. And you must help seasoned leaders adopt new and better ways to lead.

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

Posted in Leadership Development

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