The Secret To Creating More Leaders

Leadership Development Processes
Summary: One of the best ways to improve your company’s performance is to improve the impact of its leaders.

Learn How To Create Strong Leaders

If your business had more outstanding leaders, could you make changes more effectively? Could you create more innovative products and services? Could you increase employee engagement and therefore productivity and retention? Yes, yes, and yes! If you don’t believe me and want to see the research, contact me. One of the best ways to improve your company’s performance is to improve the impact of its leaders. Even without the research, you know your company needs more outstanding leaders. Leaders who inspire and motivate. Those that bring the best out of people and teams. Outstanding leaders bring the future into today. They empower and engage employees and create high performing teams. They create positive change. The more outstanding leaders you have, the more effective your organization!

“The quality of leadership, more than any other single factor, determines the success or failure of an organization.”– Fred Fiedler

If you already know your business needs better and stronger leaders, how do you create more outstanding leaders? The secret is that leadership development only works if it is designed and implemented as a critical process that the CEO champions. It must be led, and it must be measured like any other successful business process.

Leadership Development Processes

The current economic downturn from the COVID-19 pandemic is going to threaten the existence of many companies. 88% of small businesses already have a problem with cash flow and the "stay at home" economy is making most CEOs look for every nonessential expense that they can cut from their budgets. Most CEOs will stop training and developing their leaders. This type of decision making may be necessary for survival but also can be short-sighted.

There is a middle ground—spend less time and money on training and developing leaders but continue to do it. The secret is to think of it as a business process—something that has inputs and outputs. The business process of leadership development can be done efficiently and economically.

A good reason to consider building leadership development as a process is to ensure you don't lose your best talent after the stay-at-home rule is lifted. When we come back, business will not be normal and business owners are going to need their best people to get back on their feet. The good news is that most CEOs have already identified their high potential leaders. Normally, the number of high potential leaders is not a huge number.

Your key leaders need to work together to lead the changes your business must go through to survive and pivot to become successful again. The direct impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the worldwide economy is unprecedented, and you will need to make many successful changes in your business. Great leaders have the ability to lead others to pivot and make positive changes rapidly. Good leaders are average in their ability to create change. Often, average leaders don't know what to do to help people.

What Should Business Leaders Do?

The question for business leaders to answer is: How can you develop your best people into outstanding leaders without breaking the bank and spending years doing it?

A senior leader at a Fortune 100 company said to me that he was shocked that their development process began with a 360-degree leadership assessment but didn’t conclude with a follow-up assessment. He said we would never run a marketing campaign and not conduct a follow-up study to determine the results. Unfortunately, most leadership development programs don’t measure progress.

The biggest problems with leadership development processes are:

  • They are mostly event-based; once the event is over so is the program.
  • They focus primarily on providing content and/or too much emphasis on intellectual learning, which tells people the more you know, the better you lead—which is not true.
  • There is no involvement with outstanding leaders as mentors and/or the managers of participants are not engaged in the development process.
  • The process does not utilize action learning.
  • The process lacks clear expectations of behavioral change and doesn’t help people learn how to change their habits/create new habits (personal change).
  • There are no real metrics or measurement of change over the course of the process.

CEOs that want breakthrough leadership development need to ensure their organizations use the best process possible. From my years of creating outstanding leaders, the best processes share some common variables:

  1. It starts and ends with a 360-degree assessment to document the process improvement. Measures the impact of improved leadership has on the business.
  2. Accurately identifies if there is a significant leadership problem and pinpoints mission-critical leadership strengths.
  3. Integrates learning events and time for development (apply what you have learned) with “deep practice.” (May include an action learning project outside of the business.)
  4. Teaches leaders how to rapidly develop leadership strengths and emerging strengths through gaining insights from reflection and coaching.
  5. Meaningfully includes others into the process; feedback providers, managers who observe the progress and effort being applied, leadership mentors who can be role models, peers who are fully engaged in their own process of development, etc.

When businesses create a process of leadership development for their best people they let them know they are important to the business and they don't want them to leave. A good leader can become great in 12 to 18 months. I worked with a leader who had a 10x improvement in 18 months. Can you imagine what an impact a great leader has on their team's productivity and performance? It is even more than you can imagine. Great leaders have an even bigger impact on business performance than you can imagine.