Leadership development that works is a vital component to long term business success, says Christine Wattie.
Leadership is the number one people issue in New Zealand organisations with only a minority of companies saying their pipeline is in good shape. And, when asked, few people can think of a truly great leader they have worked with. Leadership development that works is a vital component to long term business success, says Christine Wattie.
Around ten years ago, I swapped hats, from business leader to leadership development consultant. Over the last decade, I’ve asked literally thousands of leadership development participants attending my workshops to reflect on the following:
“Think about a great leader you have worked with. With that leader in mind, answer the question, what are the characteristics of a leader you would willingly follow?”
What continues to surprise me is how many people are stumped with the first part of the question; how few people can actually think of a truly great leader they’ve worked with. Think about the question for yourself- can you?
Fortunately, when people are asked to expand their search for leaders to include a parent, grandparent, teacher, or someone from history, most people can find someone, and then name the qualities that make that person a great leader. Qualities such as integrity, vision, competent, inspiring, innovative, courageous and relational are some that arise frequently.
What sense can we make of this?
Leadership is Common but Great Workplace Leadership is Rare
A quick google search on the term ‘leadership’ comes up with around 765,000,000 results packed with the latest secrets to success, suggesting that this subject is extremely common. However, judging by experience, great leadership in workplaces, seems to be extremely rare.
If great organisational leadership in today’s complex environment was just a set of superficial skills, steps and behaviours, great leaders would be a lot more common. Fortunately, most of us can identify the qualities of true greatness, even if these are found somewhere beyond our workplaces. These qualities of honesty, courage, authentic relationships and the like are more than just a quick fix; they require something much deeper of our leaders.
The good news is that extraordinary leadership can be learned. The challenge is that there are no shortcuts to greatness. Leadership today is needed for people at all levels of our organisations and requires new approaches.
The leadership development paradigm that many companies around the World follow is simply not delivering what is expected and necessary. There are still huge gaps in many areas including appreciating the power of diversity, systems thinking, sustainability, and building global leaders.
Linking Great Leadership and Extraordinary Performance
Business performance and leadership effectiveness are strongly correlated with adult development stages according to Robert Anderson and William Adams’s research integrating the theories of more than 40 thought leaders in their 2016 publication, Mastering Leadership.
The stages progress from egocentric, through socialised, creative to integral and beyond.
Albert Einstein said – “The definition of insanity is to try to solve a problem with the same level of thinking that created the problem in the first place.”
Most adults don’t progress past socialised, however it’s interesting that leadership becomes extraordinary at the higher levels of development. Creative leadership is the minimum level of adult development required to create lean, innovative, visionary, creative, agile, thriving organisations. Only around 20 percent of leaders are operating at this level. This is the leadership imperative.
Creative leaders ask the questions: “Who am I? What do I care about most? What do I stand for? How can I make my life and leadership a creative expression of what matters most?”
Creative leaders march to the beat of a different drum and become visionary leaders. They treat others as equal, participating members with whom they engage and creatively align. They encourage self-expression and collaboration.
We need leaders who can navigate the complex challenges we are facing today and into the future. We need creative leadership or beyond to achieve extraordinary results.
How Can I Become an Extraordinary Leader?
Leadership today requires masterfully responding to permanent ‘white water’. It incorporates deeply personal development and purposeful vision greater than self. It requires space, focus and discipline. It is an ongoing journey that is not for the faint-hearted.
“Unless one knows how to lead one’s self, it would be presumptuous for anyone to be able to lead others effectively. Leading oneself implies cultivating the skills and processes to experience a higher level of self-identity beyond one’s ordinary, reactive ego level.” Jagdish Parikh.
IMNZ’s ACCELERATE Advanced Leadership Programme
ACCELERATE is IMNZ’s flagship leadership development programme, designed to develop extraordinary leaders and address leadership gaps to create exceptional business results.
Accelerate begins with self-awareness, and discovering your integrated, independent, creative self. This is the precursor to developing new skills, creating your vision and accelerating your performance and that of your team and organisation.
The programme runs over several months, and includes assessment tools, interactive workshops, individual coaching sessions, workplace application and peer group learning to transform leadership capability and create a platform for optimum performance.
 Global Human Capital Trends 2016, The New Organization: Different by design, Deloitte University Press, cited online 4 July 2016
Global Human Capital Trends 2016, The New Organization: Different by design, Deloitte University Press, cited online 4 July 2016.
Anderson, R, and Adams, W, Mastering Leadership, Wiley, New Jersey, 2016.
Kouses, J and Posner, B, The Leadership Challenge, 5th edition, 2012, Wiley.
Written by Christine Wattie, an IMNZ Learning and Leadership Facilitator.