Leadership development: the little things

December 30, 2015 by Wally Bock

Leadership development is a big, important thing. The effectiveness and often the fate of a company or a team hinges on how well the leader does his or her job. But the most effective leaders do a lot of little things that don’t get much publicity at all.

I started thinking about this when I read Adam Grant’s article in the New York Times. The title is “The One Question You Should Ask about Every New Job.” Don’t let the title keep you from reading the article. It’s about corporate culture. Here’s an important clip.

“Three decades ago, in a classic study, a team of researchers led by the Stanford professor Joanne Martin analyzed the stories people told about their workplaces.”

Stories tell you a lot about culture

I spent a lot of my working life as a consultant. I discovered that I could get a pretty good handle on a new client’s culture if I listened to the stories people told me. In some companies people shared “stupid boss” stories or “the little guy gets shafted” stories. Other companies told stories about worker heroes. Some told stories about bosses doing kind, generous, and helpful things.

Leadership development should develop leaders who inspire good stories

Our leadership development programs have to cover a lot of ground. The big things like strategy and industry savvy are important. But it’s the little things that generate the leadership stories that you hear in great organizations.

Leadership development and the little things

The things that make great leader stories are little things. They’re the things that leaders do day after day without fanfare or praise. Mostly they’re good manners. Here are some phrases I hope your leadership development program encourages.



May I

Do you mind?

Is that OK?

What do you think?

Do you have a moment?

I appreciate

That’s a good idea

Let’s try that

Are you developing leaders that say things like that a lot?

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

Posted in Leadership Development

If You Enjoyed This Post...

You'll love getting updates when we post new articles on leadership development, 360 degree feedback and behavior change. Enter your email below to get a free copy of our book and get notified of new posts:

Follow Envisia Learning:

RSS Twitter linkedin Facebook

Are You Implementing a Leadership Development Program?

Call us to discuss how we can help you get more out of your leadership development program:

(800) 335-0779, x1