Developing Effective Leaders: Shifting Perspectives and Prioritizing Engagement
Updated: Jul 17
Improving leadership capabilities is a key focus for organizations seeking success. Recognizing the correlation between performance and outcomes, companies are moving away from viewing managers as compliance cops and instead embracing their role as performance coaches. While training is often the first step in developing leaders, it is only effective when followed by reinforcement. In this article, we will explore a fresh perspective on leadership development, the importance of reinforcement, and the need to address demotivators to enhance leadership performance.
From Compliance to Performance
To overcome the notion that safety and production are at odds, we must see safety as a strategic value contributor. Safety should no longer be about simply avoiding accidents but about achieving excellence and fostering a culture where everyone thrives. It is crucial to challenge the idea that safety and production are mutually exclusive. By understanding the role of safety in profitability and productivity, we can break free from mediocre engagement levels and drive purposeful efforts.
The Role of Reinforcement
If training is the cornerstone of your leadership development plan, it is essential to consider the reinforcement strategy. When approached to lead workshops, one of the first questions I ask is about post-event reinforcement. Without clearly capturing and outlining motivators and demotivators, training becomes a roll of the dice. To avoid this, a comprehensive strategy that supports and aligns with the training objectives must be in place.
Moving Beyond Programs of the Month
Safety is not the only area plagued by an overabundance of short-lived programs. When results are not immediately apparent, initiatives are often abandoned, perpetuating a "This too shall pass" or "Wait and see" mentality. In reality, initiatives rarely fail due to their theoretical foundations but rather due to poor implementation. The identification of what supports or hinders success is often overlooked in the beginning.
Addressing Performance Challenges
Addressing performance challenges requires more than just providing new skills or retraining. Reflecting on past training initiatives, it is important to consider several questions:
Did individuals understand the rationale behind the training objective?
Did the training immediately highlight the value-add for individuals, or was it solely focused on organizational benefits?
How much input did the targeted audience have in developing the training and setting expectations?
Were individuals proactively and positively held accountable for meeting the expected outcomes following the training?
Were systems, performance management approaches, and measurements aligned to support and reinforce the desired change?
Assessing the Starting Point
Determining your starting point is crucial when embarking on a leadership development journey. Management is about getting things done through others, while leadership inspires people to go above and beyond to achieve greatness. Before investing in training and workshops, assess the starting point of not only the targeted level of leadership but also all individuals in leadership positions.
Supervisor Development and Organizational Alignment
While improving the leadership skills of frontline supervisors is vital, their performance and capabilities are a direct result of the management team's support. Supervisors must be developed and held accountable for their growth, ensuring that their leadership approaches align with the organization's goals. Starting at the supervisor level may not be effective if higher levels of management do not share the same vision and provide necessary reinforcement.
Neutralizing Demotivators and Shaping Leadership
Motivating individuals to improve their capabilities and become effective leaders should not solely rely on training. Before seeking training to drive behavior change, it is crucial to identify and neutralize current demotivators that hinder desirable leadership performance. Engage individuals across different levels in your organization to answer three key questions:
What actions or behaviors indicate someone as one of the best leaders in the organization?
What currently motivates leaders to excel in their roles?
What demotivates leaders from reaching their full potential?
By addressing these questions, you can identify the starting point, envision excellence, and prioritize the path to bridge the gap. Just as in military operations, it is crucial to identify potential obstacles and challenges before embarking on a journey toward leadership excellence.
Developing effective leaders requires a fresh perspective and a comprehensive approach that goes beyond training. Reinforcement, alignment with organizational objectives, and addressing demotivators are crucial elements in driving leadership performance. By understanding the starting point and engaging leaders at all levels, organizations can shape leadership culture and unlock the full potential of their workforce. Let us prioritize engagement, neutralize demotivators, and embark on a journey toward exceptional leadership that drives business success.