Leadership has been studied scientifically for more than a century, and numerous studies have identified the critical competencies that can make leaders successful.
While it’s a priority to upskill and develop employees across the organisation, leaders are often ‘too busy’ managing strategic aspects of the business and so their CPD takes a back seat. As it stands 81% of organisations are still not effective at developing leaders, with 71% of leaders unprepared to lead their organisational strategy into the future.
That said, even the most successful businesses understand that strong leaders are not built overnight. Employers serious about leadership development need to make sure they’re investing in the right people.
A critical factor is to first pinpoint your high-potential employees (not to be confused with high-performing staff, who don’t necessarily make great leaders), then focus on developing this cohort through a robust and targeted leadership programme. CEB research shows that employees with high potential all share three key characteristics: aspiration, ability and engagement. It’s these employees who make great leaders, motivating others to reach their full potential.
Leadership development is becoming more VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous), which is why leaders today need to not only draw from a broad range of knowledge but also use agile, inclusive and critical thinking to consider solutions to the challenges they face. But how can this be done?
Using proven neuroscience, a methodology has been crafted by training and consultancy organisation Leadership Skills Training known as ‘Limleadership’. This builds all the skills competencies and fits them into a model called L.I.M.B.E.R.
L – Limbic
The neuroscience behind skills development – being brave, challenging the norm, being conscious and rational around your thought process, as well as mitigating feelings against making decisions.
I – Intuitive
Understanding personality styles and behaviours (their own and others') to effectively influence and drive the team. The emotional side of leadership, which considers the impact on team members, humility, and ethics.
M – Mental agility
Cognitive flexibility is the ability to flex in your role when needed, and have a strong mindset and compass to guide you through the leadership challenges.
B – Boost
A diagnostic to learn how leaders communicate with their teams, play to individual strengths and build trust and collaboration across your organisation.
E – Excellence
This is built under NLP techniques (neuro-linguistic programming) to develop leaders' communication, messaging and storytelling skills.
R – Results
Commitments and objectives (personal, team and business) must be anchored across the leadership development programme to ensure this is embedded continually.
But developing your employees into leaders isn't an instantaneous shift. Once you have identified your key leadership employees and communicated their development plan with them, some of the ownership has to be on them to progress. One way of developing this at the early stages of their CPD is to set leaders up for success by giving them opportunities to mature their skills across their day-to-day tasks.
Another way to futureproof leaders is to embed an aligned coaching programme or mentor alongside the transitional period. Coaching during leadership progression has been proven to dramatically affect and improve the leaders’ performance goals, alongside commercial strategies.
Developing leadership competencies is not a one-time event. It is a continuous programme of improvement, and one that leaders must take ownership for themselves – personally and through their team collaboration. Leadership is a journey not a destination.
Tara Fennessy is managing director of Leadership Skills Training