Leadership development starts early

July 9, 2014 by Wally Bock

Leadership development bears fruit. The question is “What kind?”

“It is unreasonable to expect that an officer who spends 25 years conforming to institutional expectations will emerge as an innovator in his late forties.”

That’s a quote from Colonel Paul Yingling’s article, “Irregular Warfare and Adaptive Leadership” in the Small Wars Journal. Change “officer” to “manager” and it applies to business.

Leaders develop on the job

Most people involved in leadership development subscribe to the 70-20-10 rule, which says seventy percent of development happens on the job. Twenty percent of development comes from our dealings with other people. Most of that happens on the job, too. The best leadership development programs pay attention to what happens on the job.

Leadership development starts early

Leaders begin learning their craft on the first day. They pay attention to their early bosses and experience. They begin shaping their leadership style. In great programs, they confront bigger challenges and confront knottier problems as their skills develop.

Start early, praise what you want, and expect mistakes

Give your young leaders solid role models. Give them challenging assignments that they can learn from.

Reward the behaviors you want to see later in their careers. Don’t expect them to follow orders until they get that “big promotion” when they can begin to act like decisive, innovative leaders. Plant the seeds for the leadership you want.

There is no learning without discomfort and without mistakes. Expect them. Help the developing leader learn from them.

Your time starts now

Leadership development is like planting a tree. It takes a while, but the sooner you plant the seeds, the sooner you’ll have shade. As they say on those cooking shows: “Your time starts now!”

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

Posted in Leadership Development

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