Leadership development reality check

October 3, 2014 by Wally Bock

Leadership development is about becoming a leader

Learning is a doing discipline. That’s what popped into my head when I read Kristi Hedges’ article: “If You Think Leadership Development Is A Waste Of Time You May Be Right.” Here’s the opening paragraph.

“There’s a dirty little secret in leadership development circles: many of us in the industry wonder at times how effective our work actually is. Sure, we can develop a rousing program, present compelling concepts, and entertain the crowd. That’s often what clients ask of us. But there are a myriad of factors that go into producing better leaders. How does spending hours cooped up in a contained learning environment actually end up producing more effective leaders? It’s a question worth exploring.”

Learning about leadership is not enough. Learning leadership theories is not enough. To develop leaders, you must do three things over and over.

Leadership development should be based on evaluation

Without evaluation, you don’t know what to work on. Formal evaluations like 360 assessments and official reviews should be part of the mix. So should habitual, personal, performance review and reflection. That helps the developing leader decide what to develop.

Leadership development means trying things

Developing means trying. Every leadership encounter is different and at least a little surprising. Leaders learn soon enough that agility and the ability to adjust are critical skills.

Leadership development includes feedback

Feedback is how the developing leader learns what to do differently next time. Sometimes feedback is formal. Sometimes it is delivered by a coach or mentor. But the developing leader must create the habit of reviewing his or her performance, too.

Leadership doesn’t happen in the classroom and it shouldn’t happen by accident. It’s more like learning to dance than it is like learning history.

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

Posted in Leadership Development

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