I’ve had the opportunity to build leadership development programs for many different kinds of organizations. Occasionally people ask me about the most important things that a leadership development program should focus on to get results. Many programs feel good to the practice, because they are doing something for their leaders, but may not drive results. There are some concepts that I have found are part of the most successful programs.
Success through others is different
The biggest shift in thinking that people have to make to become great leaders is realizing that their individual success only happens through the success of others. It’s often challenging when we promote rugged individualists into a role where they can no longer achieve success by what they do themselves, but now have to depend on what others do to achieve their own leadership goals. Many of these people have been rewarded all their life for standing out from a crowd and excelling compared to others. Now they must lead some of the very kinds of people that they typically leave in the dust become more successful. It’s a very challenging transition and the best development programs help people make it happen consistently.
You can’t outwork lack of commitment
Leadership truly is about working differently, not working harder or directly accomplishing more. A leader’s job is to be a catalyst for creating commitment and engagement in a team of people. That requires a different approach with different individuals and a better understanding of human dynamics than most people possess. Repeating processes with more effort, but without a sense of emotional intelligence, simply won’t make a difference. That’s a change that all great leaders are able to make.
The stage can be lonely
As a leader, you are always on stage. The people you work with are constantly watching, evaluating, and talking about you. The moment you think that you can make rules you don’t follow, you begin to inhibit your ability to lead. People expect leaders to set an example with their level of focus, discipline, and commitment. Waver in any of these and we give permission to everyone on the team to waver too. This is not about having all the answers. In fact, no one likes a leader who believes they do. It’s about having a level of engagement that other people emulate and that raises the bar for your team.
Leaders build sustainable success
Leaders whose teams would crumble if they left, have done a disservice to the hospital they work for. The team must evolve from a group of people that works hard for their leader, to a group of people that works hard because of who their leader helped them become. There are countless stories of those charismatic, infectious leaders that people followed no matter what hill needed to be taken and yet when that leader moved on, they either followed him or her somewhere else, or they fell to a lower level of success themselves. Our job as leaders isn’t about helping people follow us; it’s about helping others lead themselves and lead others.
If you are putting a development program in place in your practice there is certainly a place for things like how leaders manage time, conduct meetings, and execute the daily needs of the organization. If you really want to create leaders who can take your business to the next level though, you have to help them think differently about leadership and become someone who creates capability in others, not just demonstrates their own.