THE SILVER BULLET
In last week’s blog post we pointed out that experienced leaders are retiring at an alarming rate leaving organizations without a pool of leaders from which to choose to fill open roles. Many companies are also ignoring the growth and development of future leaders due to budget shortfalls and lack of commitment to training and development. If a company does not invest in leadership training for its high-potential employees, those individuals are likely to leave and find opportunity and deeper engagement elsewhere. For most people, leadership is a skill that begins in their youth but must be nurtured throughout their career. Companies cannot approach leadership selection and train the same way they approach other opportunities in the company. Leadership selection and training must feel special and be engrained as a core component of the organization’s culture.
This week we will address the characteristics of an optimal leader so that companies have a framework from which to choose the best candidates to fill future roles in your organization. According to Marshall Goldsmith, number one executive coach in the world, successful leaders must maintain the traits of humility, courage, and discipline. These traits coupled with five competencies can build a successful employee into an excellent leader. In this blog, we will review the essential traits and next week we will talk about the core competencies required of a successful leader including solid communication, people engagement, boundary-less inclusion, assuring success, and continuous change.
“Successful people become great leaders when they learn to shift the focus from themselves to others.”
― Marshall Goldsmith, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful
Holding a position of power may be useful for a person’s ego, but successful leaders ensure that their employees know that their leader is not above his/her shortcomings. Leaders cannot be afraid of their failures. We all fail at some point, but what matters is the way we pick ourselves up and learn from our mistakes. Learning from our mistakes is what helps us grow and be stronger. When employees recognize that failure is natural, even for leaders, they will feel more open-minded and confident. Excellent leaders involve their stakeholders with suggestions to improve their performance and that of their department. They consider all recommendations, accept the ones that make sense and make changes as appropriate. Strong leaders admit they are not perfect and demonstrate leadership growth.
“No matter how good you think you are as a leader, my goodness, the people around you will have all kinds of ideas for how you can get better. So for me, the most fundamental thing about leadership is to have the humility to continue to get feedback and to try to get better – because your job is to try to help everybody else get better. ” Jim Yong Kim
Leaders need to have the courage to get out of their comfort zone and try new things. They need to be vulnerable, rethink deeply held beliefs, and do what it takes to change. Excellent leaders stand behind their employees and speak up for initiatives in which they believe. New leaders need to learn how to use the power of facts and financials rather than emotion to justify his/her actions. Also, one of the most challenging adjustments a new leader has to make is learning how to handle disagreements or issues. Leaders want to be fair and balanced while avoiding potential conflict, which sometimes can be difficult. In fact, managers often veer away from confrontation and try to avoid it at all costs. New leaders need to create an environment that encourages continuous feedback on both sides. Once they receive feedback, leaders should not criticize or make excuses for the suggestion. Rather they should respond with a simple thank you to the employee for the suggestion.
“Success is not final: Failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Leaders need to be able to implement and hone their behavior, habits, and processes. A key indicator of the success of a future leader is the employees’ ability to recognize undesirable behaviors and change them. The employee should also be able to graciously accept criticism from his/her stakeholders and make positive changes in his/her behavior based on that feedback. Making leadership change stick is all about creating more effective habits and processes, which requires disciplined execution of an action plan developed after receiving input from stakeholders. Accepting and responding to stakeholder feedback can be difficult for some employees. When that is the case, developing a successful leader with this employee could be questionable.
“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments! Jon Rohn
Baby boomers are quickly retiring leaving holes in the leadership of many companies. Recognizing the employees that have potential to be outstanding leaders is a natural outcome during a succession planning process. Executive coaching needs to begin as soon as possible once these high-potential employees are identified. Companies who invest in coaching receive a 4% to 8% return on their investment. Golden Professional Coaching is a certified Marshall Goldsmith Executive Coaching firm and certified in the John Mattone Emotional Intelligence leadership development approach. Golden Professional Coaching is ready to take on the challenge of coaching your high-potential employees to be the best leaders on your team. Contact Mary Kuniski at email@example.com more information.
“One of the things we often miss in succession planning is that it should be gradual and thoughtful, with lots of sharing of information and knowledge and perspective, so that it’s almost a non-event when it happens.” Anne M. Mulcahy