team builidng & leadership - developing team norms and explicit needs for great work (26)

When working on an organization development process I like to meet 1 on 1 with as many people as possible. These meetings seek to understand 3 or 4 things:

  1. Establish trust & understand what both of us are doing here.
  2. Listen for consistent trends from multiple people.
  3. Identify 1 or 2 clues or signs that we are making progress.
  4. Learn the language of the organization.

Recently, in a meeting with 2 managers, a common discussion happened.

  • Manager B, “I’ve been a manager for over 20 years. This is not going to teach me anything. You would think that after being here this long I’m doing something right. When I became a manager they did not offer any training, I had to learn through hard work.”
  • Me, “How would we recognize when our time is useful?”
  • Manager A, “For years we’ve been left alone to figure things out. It may be useful when we hear & try some of the stuff the book says. But I doubt it will change me at all.”

After the meeting I wrote:

Leadership Development Is Not About You … It is about the organization and those you support and support you.

Much content about leadership development is very introspective. Focusing on the individual. Trying to create the  Übermensch through excessive self-discovery, assessments, journaling, therapy, emotional intelligence, etc… Believing if you can just know more about yourself you will become a mindful leader that others will openly follow.

What is wrong with leadership development being about the self?

It creates a Great-Man-Theory fallacy. The idea that a single great leader can change things.  This idea is devoid of the needed context to get the work done. This context is:

  • the organization as a whole
  • the tasks that people are asked to complete
  • the people who do the work.

Ignoring the complexity + interactivity of the workplace causes many companies to seek a single person to blame or praise. Also creating a culture of leadership development that is focused on building up a single person without building the team & those that interact with the work to be done.

What does leadership development with a focus on those that you support and support you look like?
The 7 Principles of Leadership Development
  1. Necessary Skilled-Knowledge
  2. Selection
  3. Using Existing Employees as Mentors
  4. Education for Leadership
  5. Strategy for Leadership Development
  6. The Chief Executive
  7. The Chance to Lead