Leadership development: It’s about behavior

April 8, 2015 by Wally Bock

I just read an article about Gallup’s latest research into “Why Great Managers are So Rare.” The “sky is falling” part shows up early.

“Gallup finds that companies fail to choose the candidate with the right talent for the job 82% of the time. Bad managers cost businesses billions of dollars each year, and having too many of them can bring down a company.”

Never fear, though, Gallup has the answer. Just select managers with “high talent.” Here’s a list of the talents that great managers have, at least according to Gallup.

  • “They motivate every single employee to take action and engage employees with a compelling mission and vision.
  • They have the assertiveness to drive outcomes and the ability to overcome adversity and resistance.
  • They create a culture of clear accountability.
  • They build relationships that create trust, open dialogue, and full transparency.
  • They make decisions based on productivity, not politics.”

Here’s the problem with that list. You can memorize it, tattoo it on your forearm, and sing it in the shower before you head out to work and you won’t be a micromicron closer to being a great manager.

Leadership development is about behavior

Your leadership development program shouldn’t just be about finding people with talent to do the things on that list. It should also, and most importantly, be about helping those with the talents learn how to do the work. It’s about behavior.

What do I do?

Your leadership development program should help participants answer the “What do I do?” questions.

What do I do to create an environment where people choose to motivate themselves? What do I do to act assertive and overcome adversity? How do I go about creating a culture of accountability? What behaviors build trust? How long does it take? How can I tell if I’m making a decision based on politics and is that always wrong?

Don’t just exhort your managers to do better. Don’t just hope that if you, somehow, select people with “high talent” for manager’s jobs, everything will work out OK. Instead, teach managers how to do the things that will make them and their team and your company successful.

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

Posted in Leadership Development

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