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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Prioritising Leadership Development

Here are 7 compelling reasons to take seriously, to invest in, and to put priority on leadership development.

1. Leadership makes a difference.
The more change that lies ahead, the more important great leadership will be. The quality and quantity can be improved through development.

2. Companies can’t always find outside or buy the leadership they need.
If they do, it is expensive and does not come with a money-back guarantee. Sports teams can rarely buy a championship. In business, success in one company does not always translate to success in another.

3. Derailments are expensive.
The higher the level, the more expensive they are. Costs include wasted salary, relocation expenses, finding and installing a replacement, buy-out packages, damage to morale and productivity, and many other intangibles.

4. Survival of the fittest is not the same as survival of the best.
Leaving leadership development to chance is foolish. There just are not enough potential leaders around to allow most of them to drown with no assistance.

5. Most of the cost of development is sunk.
Leadership development is already taking place within any organisation (job changes, stretch assignments, making mistakes, and role model bosses). Not to reap a return on the investment is bad business.

6. Creating a learning environment is consistent with business strategies that involve having employees take on more responsibility, assume more risk, and solve problems.

7. It's good business practice.
Investors consider the quality of a company’s management. Talented people prefer to work for companies that invest in their development. Customers prefer to work with companies that can solve their problems. Companies like that have strong cultures that place high value on leadership.


Success Takes Time

Instant Success Takes Time - new products, people, or ideas that appear to burst on the scene unheralded and soar to the top quickly have often been preceded by a long period of preparation, rehearsal, and trial-and-error experimentation.

One of the more mundane differences between perpetual winners and long-term losers among businesses, sports teams, and other organisations is that the winners simply work harder.  Winners are more likely to take the time to keep honing skills and testing ideas in preparation for change. That's not too dramatic or glamorous, but it's among the biggest differentiators.

In contrast, teams or organisations headed for losing streaks lurch from tactic to tactic without any apparent long-term direction. They lack discipline, do not always rely on facts before chasing fads, and panic under pressure.

Those building winning streaks remain calm and professional. Winners learn and experiment in a disciplined manner with a commitment to enduring principles and a long-term purpose that help them be patient on what can be a long road to victory.

Eventual winners have invested in three underpinnings of confidence:

First is accountability. They have faced facts honestly and taken responsibility for their own actions.

Second is collaboration. They make allies and partners, not enemies.

Last but not least is initiative. They encourage constant small innovations rather than relying only on the occasional blockbuster hit.

In short, winners are not necessarily flashy nor endowed with the hottest new thing; they are simply steady, disciplined, and prepared. They have some "instant successes" but even better, they have fewer outright failures. They bounce back faster from setbacks and can weather attacks because they stand on a firm foundation.