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Ask what you can do for the individuals on your team. The most frequent complaint I get from clients is this: “I wish my leader would be the leader I need him/her to be.”
This is closely followed by needing their leader to be more direct and specific with timelines, goals, expectations and definitions of success. Also mentioned is the need for more frequent feedback, check-ins, acknowledgments, availability and assignments to stretch them.
According to a June 20, 2019, Forbes article, “Leadership Development Is A $366 Billion Industry: Here’s Why Most Programs Don’t Work,” $166 billion is spent in the U.S. alone. The study shows that 95 percent of organizations plan to increase or maintain these leadership development programs moving forward.
But are they working? Are they focused on what is needed for employees to succeed, which in turn leads to company profitability?
A 2019 Chief Learning Officer magazine survey of 28,000 business leaders concluded that the most effective leadership training centers around high-touch, in-person efforts focusing on soft skills and not certification training or skills-based instruction. At the time, 74 percent of the training was found to be done through possibly ineffective group seminars, workshops and retreats.
I have attended more than my fair share of leadership training seminars and have never understood the true value. Most are arduous, multi-day, 8-, 10- or 12-hours-per-day events packed with tiresome facts, figures, statistics, case studies, exercises and more. How is one able to retain even a smidgen of that information?
My experience, along with many of my coaching clients, is that the learning is lost within a few short weeks or months after returning home.
Chris Westfall, author of the above-mentioned article, explains why most leadership development programs do not work. He says that leadership comes from one place, and one place only, inside of you. I could not agree more.
“Leadership does not come from a guru, or team of gurus. Leadership comes from one place, and one place only: inside of you. A program that forces participants to reflect on Warren Bennis, Jack Welch or Steve Jobs might be useful for understanding what others have done before.
But consider this: knowing all the rules and history of boxing is not going to help you when you are about to get punched in the face. Leadership, in this context, is a verb: discovered in action and demonstrated in application. What Steve Jobs did is impressive, and informative. But what you are going to do, right now for your team, is what really matters. Connect concepts to current events, and tie ideas to action, if you want a leadership program with real impact.”
Leadership does come from one place, inside you. And leadership effectiveness lands in only one place, within the individual sitting in front of you needing you to be the leader they need you to be.
This is why I love executive and leadership coaching. I have witnessed leaders enjoy success after success through the years through this personal focus.
In taking one leader at a time, one situation and one subordinate or set of team members at a time we can dig deeper. What is truly needed here and now, in this circumstance or challenge? What is missing, what have we overlooked, what is the most creative or bold solution? These are only a few of the hundreds of ways we can turn challenges into opportunities.
Separate out each personality and specifically what each needs to succeed. For example, some need praise, others need specific direction, while others need to be left alone to accomplish their goals. Some need your time to solve challenges, others excel by creatively solving their own. One leadership trait each needs is that leaders develop stronger soft skills.
Every leadership training program talks of ‘soft skills’, which is a concept and specific set of skills created by the U.S. Army in the 1960s. What soft skills do workers crave and leaders most need to develop?
Industry experts agree that the top soft skills needed for leaders to stand out are positivity, trustworthiness, creativity, communication, empathy, delegation, flexibility, decisiveness, problem-solving, responsibility, influence and team building.
Leaders, this is what individuals on your team(s) require of you. Through the years I have written articles on most of these soft skills that you can find either through the CBN website or by contacting me.
I challenge you to select the one soft skill listed above that you are most uncomfortable with and develop it, beginning today. The internet will have hundreds of recent articles to support you in developing your new skills. It will not take long for the individuals whom you lead to notice, benefit from and appreciate your efforts.
Executive and Leadership Coach Ann Golden Eglé, MCC, has steered successful individuals to greater levels of success since 1998. Ann is President of Golden Visions & Associates, LLC, can be reached at 541-385-8887, email@example.com or GVAsuccess.com. Subscribe to Ann’s internationally acclaimed ‘Success Thoughts’ e-zine on her website.