Leadership development and the little things

August 30, 2017 by Wally Bock

People loved to work for John. He was a leadership development model and one of the best bosses I ever studied.

Younger workers loved working for him because he was a veritable leadership development machine. He gave people lots of freedom, helped them correct mistakes, and develop skills they could use in their next job.

Older workers loved him because, as one told me, “He makes it fun to come to work again.” They liked the freedom, too, but they loved the way John asked for their advice and encouraged them to help develop the younger men and women.

You would think leaders like John would be the model we would use in our development programs. I don’t see that.

Leadership development for most leaders

Way too many articles seem to assume that every leader has CEO power. There’s advice that it’s important to hire well. Some suggest that leaders should adopt a performance-based pay system. That’s great advice if you’re the CEO. But if you’re like John and most other leaders, you don’t have much, if any, say in who gets hired and how they get paid.

Leadership development and the unglamorous little tings

When I observed leaders like John, and they exist in every organization, what made folks clamor to work for him weren’t the big, glamorous things. They were little, prosaic things that John and thousands of other good bosses do every day without a wisp of fanfare. They boil down to two groups of things that aren’t very hard to do but don’t get much program attention.

Leaders like John help people succeed while they help the team succeed. They listen a lot so they know what’s important to people. They repeat a few, simple expectations over and over and over. Leaders like John treat people with respect. They say “please” and “thank-you” and they solicit advice and ideas.

None of this is glamorous. None of this is big stuff. But it is the kind of leadership that makes great teams great. We need to teach more of it.

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

Posted in Leadership Development

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