To evolve as leaders, managers have to internalize the idea that leadership is fundamentally different from managing tasks. Being a great leader means both managing tasks and functions well, but also understanding how to behave and “show up” as a leader. It can be hard to grasp for some, but it can be learned.
It surprises me how many training programs exist in a vacuum. They might focus on training on specific skills like time-management, budgeting and coaching, for example, but they incorporate very little business context into the design of their programs, and they measure metrics such as “usage,” rather than real business impact. Top-level training organizations move beyond abstract learning to understand how to align what they’re doing with key business objectives.
Context is so important for effectively incorporating learning into an organization. For learning, getting it right in the context of your organization’s needs is what makes it relevant, meaningful and “sticky.”
Leadership development doesn’t and shouldn’t look the same at every organization. For example, how leaders make decisions at a start-up in a high-growth industry is going to be quite different from decision-making at a 100-year-old organization in an established market.
Five key tips for leaders today:
1. Anticipate change and be ready yourself, and empower leaders at all levels to drive transformation and be change agents. This will require you to delegate.
2. Managing your talent well trumps everything else. Your excellence in your functional area (such as finance) is less critical than your ability to attract, inspire and keep great people on your team.
3. A global mindset means being open to diversity in all its forms, which is much more complex than knowing the right way to present your business card at a meeting with someone from another culture. Be open, be humble and guard against faulty assumptions.
4. Encourage learning across your organization, and make it part of your culture. Organizations that continuously learn and innovate will be able to maintain their competitive advantage.
5. Build and nurture your network. Leaders need to get things done through influence more than authority. Therefore, relationships and trust with a network of key individuals across regions and functions will be critical to moving thing ahead quickly and effectively.