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Leadership and development strategies: The thinking and doing

by | Apr 8, 2019

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When it comes to leadership there is a constant need for strong development strategies. Thinking ahead and planning out career progression and long-term goals for your management team is critical not just to business success but employee retention.

Moreover, it’s of the utmost importance that your leaders understand both the thinking behind development and the skills to actually do the developing with their own team members.

In this article we’ll take a look at what defines good leadership, the thinking behind leadership development and the steps needed for leaders to act on this development.

Effective leadership isn’t uniform, it’s personal and individual and the best leaders know this to be true.

Is there a one-size-fits-all approach to good leadership?
What leadership style is the secret sauce to peak efficiency? It’s a question we get constantly. If you have any hand in designing leadership development you’ve probably heard the same question time and time again.

The thing is, there isn’t one. Effective leadership isn’t uniform, it’s personal and individual and the best leaders know this to be true. Trying to force-fit yourself, or any of your team members, into a prescribed mould is a no-win game. Good leaders understand their own style – who they are – and have learned how to leverage it.

So if there’s no one type of leader you have to be, what’s the key to being successful?

No matter what kind of business you’re in, being successful requires Whole Brain® Thinking. That same concept applies to leadership. You must understand both how you prefer to think and where your blind spots are so you can fully leverage your mental strengths and stretch outside them when necessary.

Here’s the even better news: applying Whole Brain® Thinking doesn’t require you to be someone you’re not. After all, you have access to your whole brain, not just the thinking styles you prefer the most. Instead, this is about becoming highly skilled as a thinker, allowing yourself to situationally access the different thinking required to handle a given challenge.

This is the essence of leadership agility, particularly in today’s knowledge intensive world where challenges are more complex. We must take full advantage of our own diversity of thought as well as the thinking diversity around us.

The thinking: How to develop independent and thoughtful leaders

Shifting thinking to match the needs of a situation is something anyone can learn how to do, and developing that skill should be a chief priority of every modern leadership development program.

So rather than concentrating on the most effective leadership styles, ground your leadership training and development efforts in practical ways to unleash thinking capability.

Once you open leaders up to their full thinking potential and give them experience accessing and applying their own inherent thinking diversity, all of the modes of thinking will become more available to them on a daily basis.

When we give our leaders the power to move between these thinking styles, we give them the power to be their most effective selves.

The idea isn’t to change the unchangeable but to help leaders take advantage of the flexibility we all have to become more effective across the range of key leadership issues based on the situation. We know the range is big: strategic thinking, critical thinking, mindful focus, collaboration, empathy, problem solving, intuitive thinking, conceptualising, dealing with ambiguity, visualising, creative processing and more.

When we give our leaders the power to move between these thinking styles, we give them the power to be their most effective selves.

The doing: How to help them (and their teams)

Of course, you don’t have to look far in the modern business environment to find a challenge to test this flexibility out.

From research on the brain and learning, we know that it takes a lot of energy, motivation and passion for people to be successful in an area that requires them to think outside of their comfort zones. They can do it, but it takes considerable mental effort, and that needs to be recognised, acknowledged and integrated into the process.

That’s why we advise leaders and learning professionals to take a Whole Brain® approach as they put together their plans, particularly when it involves high potential development. Consider questions like:

  • From a thinking standpoint, what will our business require in the future?
  • What are the implications in terms of the thinking needs of the employees we’re developing?
  • How do the business’s needs and the individual employee’s aspirations intersect?
  • What tools will help us meet these needs?
  • How do we keep employees motivated through the challenges they’ll face?
  • How do we translate all of this into appropriate development paths?

In many ways, it comes down to a question of alignment. It’s not about focusing on profits or performance or people or possibilities – it’s about being deliberately and situationally attentive to all four.

Leaders also need to focus on aligning the needs of the organisation with the career aspirations of those they lead by intentionally pursuing ambitious goals and challenges. By knowing your employees, your leaders can create balance between comfort and discomfort and provide the tools that allow them to progress in those stretch areas.

When you’re deliberate about how you set the stage and create those opportunities, confidence grows. It doesn’t mean the challenges will get easier, but it does mean the employee will be motivated and even excited to take them on.

Ready to get started?

Excited about the prospect of creating a learning and development strategy for your leaders that embraces the thinking and the doing? We’re ready to help.

Contact the the team at Herrmann today or read a bit more about how Whole Brain®Thinking can change your perspective by downloading our free whitepaper below.

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