Leadership development for two kinds of leadership

November 7, 2018 by Wally Bock

Leadership development programs develop people to lead others. Some of those leaders have a “leadership position.” But in the knowledge economy we need more leadership. We need people to assume a leadership role and influence others, even if they don’t have a leadership job.

We do most of our work in teams. Most leaders are also members of teams led by someone else. Leadership development programs help the leader develop for formal leadership roles, but they do little to help you become a good teammate when you’re not the one in charge.

Leadership development for positional leadership

Consider the skills we teach in most companies. We‘re developing people who will assume leadership positions. So we teach planning and decision-making skills, giving directions, and conducting performance appraisals. Some leaders learn how to create psychological safety for team members and encourage robust discussion. That’s great as far as it goes.

Leadership development for emergent leadership

On effective teams, everyone participates, so team members assume leadership roles from time to time. We can help teams do a better job if we teach everyone when and how to assume a leadership role.

If you want your teams to do their best, go beyond traditional leadership skills. Teach positional leaders to create the conditions for an effective team. Teach them to create a climate of psychological safety. Give them tools to encourage everyone to take part.

Don’t stop there. Teach everyone in the company when and how to assume a leadership role, even if it’s not their job.

Thanks to Kim Kippen whose article, “A step change in leadership development” in Training Journal started the train of thought that led to this post.

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

Posted in Leadership Development

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