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19 2013

Digging Out Leadership Facts (Part 3)

Syndicated from: balance-AND-results

So – as a continually developing leader you’ve decided to take charge of your development, to seek out better leader models and stay open to questioning. Questions like: Is this the right direction for you and your organization at this time? Who can help? How can you engage them? How will you undertake trial and error without getting in so deep that the error sinks the enterprise? If you’re asking these sorts of questions, you’re on track to cope with ever-changing complexities and challenges. You won’t bet all your company eggs in the home mortgage basket based on dubious financial principles you can’t understand as the big US banks did without questioning. You will be reflecting on your progress or lack of it toward your goals and what you can do to improve continuously, but reasonably, with tolerable risk. These are core principles you can tailor to fit your organization – like TPS (Toyota Production System), Kaizen, Six Sigma, Lean and other models based on a whole-organization constant improvement process like Toyota Culture, not just adhering blindly to the systems as they are, but a quest, an exploration of what might work, rather than pre-conceived solutions looking for problems. Toyota and others who apply such principles show how fast an organization as a whole can learn if everyone is drawn into the process of questioning and trial-and-error at every level. Today we also see a whole area of ‘brain science’ developing that some believe with solve all our problems. It great to see some organizations, for instance, offering to shave sales training from 24 months to just 7 using such principles in blended learning, but in a world where a couple of weeks training is normally considered a lot by many, the luxury of 7 months would be amazing in itself. It’s good to see some understanding that development takes time, but in North America it seems we are more likely to try to buy ‘talent’ in the market than plan long term development so our internal ‘pipeline’ is empty in most cases. That probably also partially explains the horrendously low levels of engagement here. There are those who insist leaders can’t be developed anyway so better to buy than build. Between the two extremes of ‘don’t even try’ and ‘science will solve all your problems’ are the more sane heads that see the value of brain science as adding value over time as we learn more. I’m in that camp. This is a long haul proposition to improve leaders and leadership that will someday be taken for granted, but today has still a very long way to go before it is truly producing the sort and number of leaders we need. Oddly what we’re learning from the broader field of brain science is mostly that the leader we know least about is often ourselves. If these psychological studies teach us anything it is that. We know, for instance, that we are poor judges of what makes us happy or whether we have leadership ability (Made in Canada Leadership makes the point that two thirds of leaders have to be talked into it or fall into it by accident, never imagining they would make leaders). As we achieve a better understanding of what makes potential leaders step forward and take charge of becoming good at leadership, we will be able to draw on far more of the 60% who have the intelligence for the roles (as noted in a previous post), instead of today’s 7% that hold manager roles. (And 80% of those are still stuck in outmoded command and control style, which means only 1% to 3% of all workers lead effectively.) So the hope is that instead of maybe 1% of the population now contributing effective leadership we might raise that to 30 or 40% of everyone… innovating, contributing, engaged and productive, leading at whatever level of the organization they may be in and preparing to take steps upward with more effective leadership skills. The upside potential is enormous and undoubtedly enough to save us from the most difficult problems we face as a planet – almost all of which are manmade (and yes, I mean men in this case, pretty much). So there seem to be ways to accelerate learning, both large scale and individually, but we are still in the early days of seeing these widely adopted despite the fact that where they are the results are spectacular. Can we spread this around, why isn’t it spreading faster and who can we copy? Bookmark and share this post More »

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