Leadership development: Back to Basics

March 6, 2019 by Wally Bock

Leadership development programs strive to develop leaders for a fast-changing world. There is a lot going on. We’re told millennials are reforming organizations to meet their needs. Pundits tell us technology is changing the face of business and leadership. You may think everything is up for grabs. You’d be wrong.

Leadership development aren’t about chasing fads or new technologies. The commentators have noticed.  Bruce Court wrote “The Importance of The Basics in Developing Leadership Skills” for DDI. An article on the Savannah Group website asks, “Is it time to go back to the fundamentals of leadership?”

My answer is simple. If you’ve gotten away from the fundamentals of leadership, then it’s time to go back. If you haven’t, just carry on.

Leadership Development and Change

Leadership development can’t stay the same. With new technology we can deliver learning when and as developing leaders need it. Society continues to change. As society changes, people expect more human leadership and less “I’m the boss, that’s why” leadership. 

We should adapt our methods to those challenges. Technology changes at a lightning pace. Society is changing all the time. But human nature hasn’t changed. The basics of leadership haven’t changed, either. 

Leadership Development Basics

For decades, I did an exercise in my basic leadership skills courses where we asked people to identify a time when it was great for them to come to work. Then, we analyzed what their boss did to make that time great. For decades, the concepts didn’t change. 

If we want to prepare leaders to be effective, we should consider what their team members want. That hasn’t changed much in my lifetime or the lifetime of humanity. 

People want to do meaningful work with other people they like. Leaders must learn how to create a cooperative atmosphere. They should be on the lookout for toxic team members and ready and willing to confront them. 

People want to grow and develop. They want to be challenged and to learn. Leaders must learn how to help them develop their skills.

People want to know what’s expected of them and how they’re doing. Leaders must learn how to set clear and reasonable expectations. 

People want to be treated fairly. They want the consequences of their behavior to match up with the behavior itself. They want to the process to be fair, too. They do not want to feel like they were caught, tricked, or trapped.

People want their leaders to be consistent. Leaders must learn that every decision sets a precedent. They need to know that everything they do sets an example. It may not be fair, but that’s the way it is.

Leadership Development Bottom Line

Leadership development programs must adapt to changes in society. They must seize the opportunities that new technologies present. But leadership development programs also must execute on the basics. And the basics of leadership have not changed for millennia.

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

Posted in Leadership Development

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